For 22 years Jineth Bedoya’s demonstrated incredible courage and determination to make a difference for thousands of women in Colombia who had suffered sexual violence. The pursuit of her case through the Colombian and International Courts has not been an easy one, she has been subjected to threats, forced to re-tell and to re-live the events of that day, 25 May 2000, when her body was thrown at the roadside, left for dead by those who perpetrated the crimes of kidnap, torture and rape against her as a warning to other women investigative journalists and human rights defenders.
In pursuing her case Jineth Bedoya has opened the door to thousands of women in Colombia who have been victims of the sexual violence during armed conflict. According to the most recent survey by Oxfam et al despite the Colombian Peace Talks (2010 – 2016) which led to a reduction in combat violence, women experienced an increased level of conflict-related sexual violence from 149 (2000-2009) to 400 women per day (2010-2015).
On 18 October 2021 in their Judgment against the Colombian State, in the case of Jineth Bedoya Lima, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the State of Colombia responsible for multiple violations suffered by the Colombian journalist including abduction, rape, torture as well as other multiple violations, and subsequently threats against her and her family, as she pursued the Case. The Court also noted the existence of “serious, precise and congruent indications” of the State’s participation in these events.
According to Jineth Bedoya, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights’ judgement (2021) was a collective victory: “This victory is not just for me, thousands of women victims and survivors of sexual violence, and women journalists who are subjected to violence, persecuted and stigmatised for doing their job as journalists, are finally recognised and heard. That is justice”
Year and half after the Court’s decision, Jineth recognises that having the judgement has been a step forward but inaction by the state in complying with the Court sentence to investigate the intellectual authors behind the crime has been revictimising.
In October 2022, Jineth Bedoya denounced that the Public Prosecutor’s Office has not contacted her or organised a meeting with her since the Court’s sentence in October 2021. On the positive side she pointed out that there had been progress in terms of the creation of the Centre of Memory for victims of sexual violence and women journalists (called “Centro Investigativo No es Hora de Callar”), with the allocation of a budget and location.
The developments after the Court judgement have made Jineth Bedoya aware that her pursuit for justice needs to continue focusing on ensuring that Colombian State institutions comply with, and fully implement, the orders of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights.
Colombia has yet to fully comply with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling in the Case Bedoya versus the State.
In February 2023 a follow-up judgement in the Case of Bedoya Lima et al. v. Colombia, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered Colombia to make progress in complying with points of the sentence from 18 of October 2021 that are still pending.
Since her attack on 25 May 2000, Jineth Bedoya has campaigned against the high levels of impunity for sexual violence in Colombia and started a movement under the slogan #NoEsHoraDeCallar (now is not the time for silence), to expose violence against women and girls in Colombia. This campaign and the openness of Jineth Bedoya in speaking out about the kidnap, torture and sexual violence perpetrated against her, has enabled many other survivors of sexual violence to speak out. The opening of a case on conflict and gender-based sexual violence in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP Spanish acronym) has also encouraged many women to report what is overwhelmingly a crime that has/and does remain in silence.
Bedoya’s courage in pursuing this case and her campaign has been vital in the process of ensuring that this crime does not remain in impunity and getting a judgement against the Colombian State, demonstrating the lack of access to justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. and
However, the process of justice and reparation for Jineth Bedoya is still far from finishing. Last February (2023), the Inter-American Court for Human Rights urged the Colombian State to move forward in the process of finding the intellectual authors of the crime, and those responsible for the threats that she and her family have received over the years in their pursuit of justice. It also highlighted the need to implement training for public officials, on how to identify gender-based violence against women, good practice methods of investigation and prosecution of perpetrators in order to ensure that these crimes do not remain in impunity. Read here (in Spanish) the list reparations ordered in the judgement by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2021) that are still pending to be fulfilled by the Colombian state.
On 17 May 2023 the State needs to present a report to the Inter-American Court for Human Rights stating the progress of the pending areas from the 2021’s judgement of the Case Bedoya v the Colombian State.
Bedoya will continue leading a process that aims to “leave a legacy for Colombia and women in Latin America, and for all victims of sexual violence …” Jineth Bedoya, 2023
ABColombia recognises on Women’s’ Day, 8 March 2023, Jineth Bedoya’s immense courage and commitment in her pursuit for justice, as an immeasurable legacy for women.
UN Resolution 2106 on conflict-related sexual violence states, a consistent and rigorous investigation and prosecution of sexual violence crimes is a central aspect of deterrence and ultimately prevention. It is therefore essential that these crimes, committed in Colombia, do not remain in impunity, but rather that their high-profile prosecution, as in the case of Jineth Bedoya, and in the sexual and gender-based case in the JEP will lead to deterrence and prevention of violence against women.