San José (AFP)
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled Monday that the state of Colombia bears “responsibility” for the ordeal of a journalist who was kidnapped, raped and tortured in 2000 by paramilitaries.
The Colombian state is guilty of “not having investigated the threats that had been received by” the journalist Jineth Bedoya who was investigating at the time on a criminal network, according to a statement released by the judicial wing of the Organization of American States (OAS), headquartered in San José, Costa Rica.
The State was guilty of “violation of the rights to judicial guarantees, judicial protection and equality before the law, due to a lack of diligence in the conduct of investigations”, ruled the court.
Jineth Bedoya, now 47, was working for the newspaper El Espectador when a group of paramilitaries kidnapped her on May 25, 2000 outside La Modelo prison in Bogota.
They tortured and raped her for sixteen hours, before leaving her lying naked by the side of a road.
She was investigating a weapons smuggling ring at the prison when she was kidnapped.
At the hearing, she implicated state agents, in particular an “influential” general of the police.
The acts “could not have been committed without the consent and collaboration of the State, or at least with its tolerance,” the Court ruled on Monday.
In March, the same court had already ordered the Colombian state to ensure “immediately” the safety of the journalist and her mother, both victims of threats. At that time, the Colombian state asked the journalist for forgiveness.
The paramilitaries, some of whom have since been convicted, were among the far-right militias that fought left-wing guerrillas in Colombia until their official demobilization in 2006.
Bedoya celebrated the court’s findings on Twitter.
“October 18, 2021 goes down in history as the day when a struggle that began with an individual crime led to the demand for the rights of thousands of women victims of sexual violence and of women journalists who leave part of their lives in their work, ”wrote Bedoya, who won the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize in 2020.
Conservative President Ivan Duque said on Twitter that Colombia “fully accepts the decision”.
Bedoya “should never have been kidnapped and tortured,” he added.
The Press Freedom Foundation (FLIP) hailed the “dignified” decision for a woman who “has tirelessly sought justice for over 20 years”.
© 2021 AFP