New York, October 18, 2021 — The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomed today’s announcement by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that it ruled the Colombian state responsible for the abduction, rape, and torture of journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima in 2000 and ordered the Colombian government to investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible and protect female journalists through investing in public programs to support them, among other measures.
“The Inter-American Court’s ruling is a historic acknowledgment of the deadly dangers that Colombia’s female journalists face and a recognition of Jineth Bedoya’s brave, tireless quest for justice,” said CPJ Latin America and the Caribbean Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “The Colombian government has for years refused to acknowledge or make amends for its responsibility in this case. It is past time for authorities to follow the steps laid out by the court to provide reparations to Bedoya and work to make Colombia a less dangerous place for women journalists.”
On May 25, 2000, Bedoya, then a reporter for daily El Espectador, 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. Colombian courts have sentenced three of her attackers, all paramilitary fighters at the time of the attack, to prison, as CPJ has documented. The court also asked prosecutors to look into the involvement of other higher-ranking officials.
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 to investigate the crime and provide the journalist with protection against ongoing threats, among other measures, according to El Espectador.
The government’s legal team briefly withdrew from the hearing in March 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. It later returned to the proceedings. Colombian President Iván Duque tweeted today that Colombia will “fully comply” with the decision in response to the announcement.