What was expected in Colombia as a historic day, the beginning of the virtual public hearing in the case of the journalist Jineth Bedoya before the highest American court of human rights, has led this Monday in an unprecedented action by the Colombian State. The Andean country has chosen to challenge the judges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Inter-American Court of Human Rights) and has withdrawn from the trial in which its responsibility for the threats, assaults and sexual violence that Bedoya has suffered, in the context of of its international obligations to women journalists.
Jineth Bedoya’s search for justice is now 20 years old. The journalist, today deputy editor of the newspaper Time, She was kidnapped, tortured, and raped by paramilitaries on May 25, 2000, when she was conducting an investigation at the La Modelo prison in Bogotá. Since then he has become one of the main voices against sexual violence in Latin America and has led the campaign for a decade It is not time to shut up, with the purpose that the victims raise their voices and denounce the attacks.
The beginning of the three-day hearing had been received with expectation in Colombia. “For the first time an international court, nothing less than an instance of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), hears and will surely rule on violence against women journalists in our country and in the hemisphere and on sexual violence in Colombia ”, Pointed out the editorial of Time this Monday. “This is not the time to be silent or to tolerate. It is time for full justice ”, he pointed out. In the report on the merits that it sent to the court in 2018, the IACHR concluded that the Colombian State is responsible for multiple violations of Jineth Bedoya’s rights. Just two years ago, two paramilitaries were sentenced to 40 years in prison as perpetrators after she had to become an investigator of her own crime. So far none of the masterminds of the crime have been prosecuted.
The communicator has continued to receive incessant threats to this day. “My life was destroyed, they killed me on the morning of May 25,” he told the audience with a broken voice, pointing out that journalism has been the oxygen that has allowed him to move forward. “I have believed that the word is the best way to transform pain. But unfortunately my life is over ”, he declared. “How can you recover something that is broken into a thousand pieces? Because that’s what sexual violence does ”, he pointed out at another time.
Bedoya reported in her statement that police officers were the ones who suggested that she interview paramilitary chiefs in prison, the trap that caused her kidnapping, as well as the re-victimization she had to face due to the fact that the authorities called her 12 times to testify about the sexual assault. He also declared that the greatest measure of reparation he could receive is to close La Modelo, where all kinds of rights violations have systematically occurred.
After several hours of hearing, the team of the State Legal Defense Agency representing Colombia, headed by Camilo Gómez, announced that it intended to present a brief to challenge five of the six judges as soon as possible, with the argument that his questions were prejudicial. “What is at stake here is the lack of guarantees and objectivity in this process (…) It is about not prejudging a State that presents itself with humility before the court and that puts its face before the victim, but expects to its judges the impartiality and objectivity that are the essence of justice ”, said Gómez in his unexpected statement when announcing that they were retiring. “We will hope that the illustrious State of Colombia presents its briefs and makes its requests, which will be resolved in a timely manner, and in the meantime this hearing cannot be interrupted and we will continue,” said Elizabeth Odio Benitez, president of the Court.
“This is unprecedented and irresponsible behavior,” reacted José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch for the Americas, alluding to Colombia’s decision to recuse almost all the judges because the questions bothered the victim. “The Government of Iván Duque should be ashamed of what it did before the Inter-American Court in the case of Jineth Bedoya,” he wrote on his social networks.
“The organizations that represent the journalist consider that the attitude of the State demonstrates negligence against victims of sexual violence in the armed conflict and denies decent spaces to access justice,” he said in a release the Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP), which is accompanying the case. The withdrawal of the State is an unprecedented act that raises concern about their commitment to the trial, as well as their submission to the decision adopted by the court, the organization said. “In addition, this action is part of a strategy that seeks to delegitimize the Inter-American Court and represents a new obstacle in the process, which continues to punish Jineth Bedoya for making her voice heard, thus resulting in a new attempt to silence her,” concluded the FLIP.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.