Journalist Jineth Bedoya, who was kidnapped, raped and tortured by paramilitaries 21 years ago, applauded on Tuesday a “historic” decision by a regional rights tribunal to hold the Colombian state accountable for its violent assault.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled on Monday that the acts against Bedoya “could not have been carried out without the consent and collaboration of the (Colombian) state, or at least with its tolerance”.
Bedoya, now 47, worked for the newspaper El Espectador investigating an arms smuggling ring when she was kidnapped and attacked by far-right militiamen in 2000.
“This is a historic sentence. The decisions of the court as reparations (…) are of public order, but also a jurisprudence for the whole hemisphere, not only for Colombia ”, declared Bedoya, fighting back tears, to journalists in the capital Bogota.
“And this is where the triumph of all these years of seeking justice lies. ”
The tribunal is an autonomous part of the Organization of American States (OAS) and its decisions are final and without appeal.
Bedoya was seized by a paramilitary group outside a Bogota prison, then raped and tortured for 16 hours before being abandoned by the side of the road.
She was investigating an arms trafficking ring operating out of La Modelo prison and claimed that the state, including an “influential” police chief, was complicit in her kidnapping.
The paramilitaries, some of whom have already been convicted of crimes against Bedoya, were right-wing militias who fought left-wing guerrillas during Colombia’s bloody 60-year conflict. They were dissolved in 2006.
The Colombian state is guilty of “failing to investigate the threats that had been received” by Bedoya, according to a statement issued by the judicial wing of the OAS, headquartered in Costa Rica.
The failure to investigate violated Bedoya’s “rights to judicial guarantees, judicial protection and equality before the law,” the court said.
President Ivan Duque said Colombia “fully accepts the decision” and that it should be used “to prevent such situations from happening again”.
Bedoya criticized the last four governments for only giving him “patches on the back”.
And she lambasted the “silence” and the lack of solidarity of women in government, including Vice President Martha Lucia Ramirez.
The Colombian state apologized to the journalist in the same court in March, when it also ordered the government to ensure the safety of Bedoya and her mother, both of whom had been victims of previous threats and abuse. an attack that had not been investigated.
The court ordered Colombia to “punish those who remain responsible for acts of violence”, and called for other measures, including training of the security forces focused on violence against women.
“Maybe I will never be able to see behind bars the general who ordered my kidnapping, nor the men who supported him,” Bedoya said. “But it will remain in the consciousness of the state. “
© 2021 AFP