INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE ELIMINATION OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT
Gender-based violence remains one of the most systemic and widespread human rights violations of our time.[i] In Colombia, the situation of impunity in gender-based violence has not only continued, but increased, despite the signing of the Peace Accord in 2016. According to a survey by Oxfam, despite a reduction in combat violence during the Peace Talks, Colombian women continued to experience increased levels of conflict-related sexual violence.
According to the Observatory of Memory and Conflict, there were 15,760 victims of sexual violence in conflict registered between 1959 and 2020[ii] This is a massive under-representation of the real situation in Colombia. Many women still have not denounced the crimes that were perpetuated against them.
… women have experienced an increased level of conflict-related sexual violence from 149 (2000-2009) to 400 women per day (2010-2015)” According to a study by Oxfam.
One of the reasons that women in Colombia did not denounce the crimes was because they were perpetuated by State Agents. This is a practice that continues today. In 2021 during the widespread national social protests, referred to as a “national strike”, Amnesty International documented 28 cases, from the hundreds of reports, that evidenced repeated and generalised practices of violence against women, children, and LGBTIQ+ persons.
The continuation of these serious violations of human rights contradicts Colombia’s legislative achievements[iii]. In July 2022, Colombia became the first country in the world to announce that it would start prosecution procedures in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) conflict and gender based violence in conflict, known as Macrocase11: ‘sexual violence and crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity’. Eleven months after this announcement and the JEP is still devising its methodology. ABColombia, Colombian Women and LGBTI+ organisations are calling for the long wait to be ended as this is a serious detriment to the victims, since timely access to justice is not being guaranteed” There are concerns that the JEP will run out of time to hear this case, as it will only operate until 2033.
In May 2023, during an official visit to Colombia, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, sent a strong message to the government “to speed up the implementation of all the gender measures incorporated in the peace agreement”[iv]. At the start of June 2023, the Attorney General’s Office filed a legal action (Tutela) against the Chamber for the Recognition of Truth and Determination of Facts and Conduct (Sala de Reconocimiento de Verdad y de Determinación de Hechos y Conductas – SVRV) of the JEP arguing that its judicial work has not prioritised the investigations of sexual violence cases.
“Every day that passes without the SRVR adopting a decision on the prioritisation of this macro-case implies a violation of the rights of the victims because, in the best case scenario, even if a macro-case is prioritised …, the Chamber would have less than the five years … to carry out their work of investigation … This issue, without a doubt, flagrantly violates the right to effective judicial protection”[v], Attorney General’s Office.
This case was opened as a result of national and international pressure, in particular from women in local communities, and especially Cinco Claves, whose work supporting these local women together with its advocacy work was key. They compiled and presented a series of reports that demonstrated the need for the case to be opened. In a Public Statement, Cinco Claves described the delays in the official opening of the Macro case as “an act of discrimination against women and LGBTQ population”.
On the International Day of the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, ABColombia joins with the voices of Colombian CSOs to reiterate the urgent need for the JEP to open macro-case 11, making it possible to investigate and prosecute sexual violence and other crimes related to gender, sex, orientation or identity committed by all actors during the armed conflict, including former guerrillas, paramilitaries, and State Security Forces.
[i] Ambassador Neil Bush at OSCE. Dec 2022 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/international-day-for-the-elimination-of-violence-against-women-2022-uk-statement-to-the-osce
[ii] “Los datos del OMC muestran que entre 1959 y 2020 se han registrado 15.760 víctimas de violencia sexual en todo el país, en el marco del conflicto armado”. https://centrodememoriahistorica.gov.co/un-30-de-las-victimas-de-violencia-sexual-en-el-conflicto-armado-son-ninas-o-adolescentes/#:~:text=Los%20datos%20del,los%2017%20a%C3%B1os.
[iii] Colombia was the first country in the world to sign a Peace Accord which declared ‘no amnesties’ for conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. It is also the first country to prosecute in a national case in the Transitional Justice System, crimes of sexual and gender-based violence and crimes related to sexual orientation, and gender identity. https://www.abcolombia.org.uk/press-release-the-signing-of-a-peace-accord-has-not-stopped-sexual-and-gender-based-violence-in-colombia/
[iv] “enviar un mensaje muy fuerte al Gobierno nacional para que acelere la implementación de todas las medidas de género que se incorporaron en el acuerdo de paz”, https://www.infobae.com/colombia/2023/05/24/la-onu-apoyara-a-colombia-para-acelerar-la-implementacion-de-medidas-de-genero-en-el-acuerdo-de-paz/
[v] “Cada día que transcurre sin que la SRVR adopte una decisión sobre la priorización de un macrocaso relacionado con hechos de VS y VBG, implica la violación de los derechos de las víctimas pues, en el mejor de los escenarios, de priorizarse un macrocaso frente a estos hechos la Sala tendría menos de los cinco años que se han establecido como lapso para cumplir con sus labores de instrucción frente a estas graves violaciones a los derechos humanos. Esta cuestión, sin duda, vulnera de manera flagrante el derecho a la tutela judicial efectiva”, advirtió la Procuraduría. https://www.infobae.com/colombia/2023/06/04/procuraduria-interpuso-tutela-a-la-jep-para-que-se-priorice-macrocaso-de-violencia-sexual/