WASHINGTON, D.C.—March 17, 2021—The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) joins calls for the Government of Colombia to return to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights hearing to determine the government’s responsibility in the rape and torture case of Jineth Bedoya Lima.
Jineth Bedoya Lima is a courageous Colombian journalist and a strong advocate for victims of sexual violence in conflict. On May 25, 2000, she was kidnapped at the entrance to La Modelo Prison in Bogotá while waiting for authorization to enter for an interview relating to her investigative work on paramilitaries and armed conflict in Colombia’s prisons. During the kidnapping, she was tortured and raped and told by her attackers that this was “punishment” for her journalism.
Bedoya has sought justice in Columbia, investigating her own case when prosecutors failed to do so and facing additional threats seeking to silence her. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights referred her case to the Court of Human Rights—the most important international court in the Americas—in 2019. The case marks the first time the Court is examining Colombia’s responsibility in a case about sexual violence: for not adequately protecting Bedoya despite credible threats, and for failing to pay damages or adopt measures to better protect journalists.
However, after listening to her testimony on Monday morning—the first day of a virtual public hearing to determine the state’s responsibility in the 2000 abduction, rape, and torture case—the Colombian delegation announced it would not continue participating in the hearing and would call for the recusal of most of the judges from the case. The Court announced in a press release it was suspending the hearing.
“Colombia’s decision to leave the hearing is not only unjustified, but it will also revictimize Jineth, who has worked tirelessly to seek justice in her own case and for other survivors of sexual violence. We hope that Colombia will reconsider its action and ensure justice for human rights violations, including those perpetrated against women journalists and victims of sexual violence in conflict,” said Amb. Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security.
Bedoya received the Hillary Rodham Clinton award from GIWPS in 2017 for her advocacy for victims of sexual violence during conflict in a ceremony honoring leaders of the inclusive Colombian peace process that resulted in a peace agreement in 2016.
In a recent interview on the GIWPS podcast, Bedoya called her case a milestone “not only for women journalists in Colombia but also for women journalists throughout Latin America.” She was filled with hope and spoke about “the ability to turn a tragedy into such an emblematic case.” She added that “Although I feel so tired of walking this path, I think we are in the final stretch of being able to find justice. And I dream of that day.”
“Jineth deserves to have her case considered and justice rendered,” Verveer adds.
Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace & Security seeks to promote a more stable, peaceful, and just world by focusing on the important role women play in preventing conflict and building peace, growing economies, and addressing global threats like climate change and violent extremism. We engage in rigorous research, host global convenings, advance strategic partnerships, and nurture the next generation of leaders. Housed within the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, the Institute is headed by the former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer.