The Inter-American Court condemns Colombia for the kidnapping and torture of journalist Jineth Bedoya | International

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Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya.Samuel Sanchez

In her tireless struggle of more than 20 years, Jineth Bedoya has finally found justice. In a judgment Long-awaited, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Inter-American Court) has condemned Colombia on Monday in the case of the journalist, kidnapped, tortured and raped by paramilitaries in 2000 while conducting an investigation at the La Modelo prison in Bogotá. The court found the Colombian State “internationally responsible for the violation of the rights to personal integrity, personal liberty, honor, dignity and freedom of expression” of Bedoya, and warned about “serious, precise and concordant indications” of State participation in the terrible attacks he suffered.

The Inter-American Court ordered various measures of reparation, which include promoting and continuing the investigations that are necessary to try those responsible for his kidnapping and torture, as well as the threats he has suffered. Also spread your campaign It is not time to shut up, which should be broadcast through the public media system, or create programs to protect women journalists and a state center for the memory and dignity of all women victims of sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict. Bedoya had also requested as a measure of reparation to close the La Modelo prison, considering it “a symbol of impunity” from where all kinds of crimes are still ordered, but the court did not agree to that request.

Before being kidnapped, Bedoya and her mother –Luz Nelly Lima– suffered an attack whose perpetrators were never known, in an episode that was not enough for the State to offer her protection. Therefore, the Inter-American Court also decided to declare the State responsible for the violation of the rights to judicial guarantees, judicial protection and equality before the law due to the absence or delay of the investigations into these threats as well as for the multiple attacks on the 25 May 2000.

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“October 18, 2021 goes down in history as the day when a fight, which began due to an individual crime, led to the vindication of the rights of thousands of women victims of sexual violence and of women journalists who give up part of their lives. in his trade, ”Bedoya wrote in a Twitter message. The Foundation for Press Freedom (Flip), which has accompanied the case, celebrated the decision as “a historic sentence” in an emblematic process that sets a precedent for the hemisphere. “It is a roadmap not only to repair Jineth, but also to advance in the protection of women journalists and access to justice for women victims of sexual violence,” said Flip.

“Colombia fully complies with the ruling,” announced President Iván Duque, with which the Government is willing to settle the controversies that it has unleashed in the process. “The case of Jineth Bedoya Lima can never be repeated. This sentence should serve as a guide in the actions to be implemented to prevent something similar from happening again, “said the president in a chain of messages on his social networks. “The judgment of the Inter-American Court will be fulfilled in its entirety, as Colombia has always done,” he reiterated.

On May 25, 2000, when Colombia was surrounded by the crossfire of drug traffickers, guerrillas and paramilitary groups, Bedoya, by then a journalist from The viewer, she was intercepted at the jail door while waiting to be authorized to enter for a previously arranged interview with a paramilitary chief as part of an investigation into arms trafficking, disappearances and homicides in Colombian prisons. They held her for 16 hours and then abandoned her on a highway on the outskirts of Bogotá.

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The journalist has continued to receive incessant threats since then, as she reported in March, at the beginning of the virtual public hearing for her case before the highest American court of human rights. She also pointed out that police officers were the ones who suggested that she interview paramilitary chiefs at La Modelo, the trap that led to her kidnapping, and that the Prosecutor’s Office revictimized her by calling her 12 times to testify about the sexual assault. “My life was destroyed, they killed me on the morning of May 25,” he said with a broken voice, pointing out that only journalism has allowed him to move on. “I have believed that the word is the best way to transform pain. But unfortunately my life is over (…) How can you recover something that is broken into a thousand pieces? Because that is what sexual violence does ”, he pointed out in one of the most shocking moments.

On the way, the now assistant editor of the newspaper Time has become one of the main voices against sexual violence in Latin America after a decade at the forefront of the campaign It is not time to shut up, which seeks that the victims raise their voices and denounce the attacks. Last year it was recognized with the Unesco World Press Freedom Prize.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) referred Bedoya’s case to the Inter-American Court in 2019, considering that the Colombian State did not act to protect her, and failed to comply with the recommendations it had made to investigate what happened and adopt measures of non-repetition, protection, prevention and repair of damages. Two years ago, two paramilitaries were sentenced to 40 years in prison as material authors after the journalist had to become an investigator of her own crime, but none of the intellectual authors has been prosecuted.

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His process has not been immune to controversy, in the midst of the Duque government’s attacks on the inter-American system. In an unprecedented action, the Colombian State chose to withdraw from the March hearing and tried to challenge the magistrates by pointing out that the questions indicated prejudice, and labeling the judges as biased. The Inter-American Court rejected these allegations, which provoked an avalanche of criticism from different sectors. “I have been litigating before the Inter-American Court for 25 years and this is unusual, we are surprised that the State of Colombia does what really authoritarian governments such as the Fujimori government in Peru, Ortega’s in Nicaragua, and Maduro’s in Venezuela did not” then pointed Viviana Krsticevic, Bedoya’s lawyer and director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).

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