New York, March 16, 2021 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Colombian government to return to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights hearing on the case of Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya and to uphold its obligations to ensure justice in cases of violence to journalists.
Colombian representatives withdrew in protest yesterday from the first day of a virtual public hearing to determine the state’s responsibility in the 2000 abduction, rape, and torture of journalist Jineth Bedoya, according to news reports and the Bogotá-based Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP). The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights brought the case to the court in May 2019 after it found the Colombian state had failed to comply with its recommendations issued in January that year, according to news reports. The government’s legal team withdrew after requesting the recusal of five of the six judges overseeing the case, citing alleged bias and a “lack of objectivity” in their questioning of Bedoya. The Court announced in a press release it was suspending today’s hearing and has not yet rescheduled the remaining two days of hearings.
“The Colombian government’s decision to effectively stomp out of the Inter-American Court hearing shows the authorities’ shocking disregard for the violence inflicted on Jineth Bedoya, and is a slap in the face to every Colombian journalist — especially women journalists — fighting impunity,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “If the Colombian government cannot accept responsibility in Bedoya’s case, what hope does any other journalist have of seeing justice? Instead of picking procedural fights, the Colombian government should take this opportunity to set a regional example and return to the proceedings immediately.”
On May 25, 2000, Bedoya was abducted outside a Bogotá prison where she was set to interview a member of a paramilitary group, and driven to another city, where she was beaten and raped, according to the Colombian attorney general’s office. Since then, Colombian courts have sentenced three of her attackers to prison, as CPJ has documented, but authorities have not identified or prosecuted other, higher-ranking individuals allegedly involved in the crime.
Editor’s note: The year of the attack on Bedoya has been corrected in the second paragraph.