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Nation Accepts Responsibility for Journalist's Gang Rape

International court finds Colombia tolerated, if not consented, to 2000 attack on Jineth Bedoya
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2021 1:26 PM CDT
Nation Accepts Responsibility for Journalist's Gang Rape
Jineth Bedoya speaks before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on April 5, 2016.   (Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Cima - IACHR)

(Newser) – Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya was kidnapped at gunpoint outside a prison in Bogota, where she'd expected to interview an imprisoned paramilitary leader in May 2000. It was the start of 16 hours of torture that would include a gang-rape, reports CBS News. "All I know is that I wanted to die," the reporter for El Espectador told the Guardian in 2019 as three paramilitary leaders were finally convicted in the case, which became a symbol of sexual violence against women during the nation's five-decade-long civil war. Now, Colombia's government has been found responsible.

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The attack "could not have been carried out without the consent and collaboration of the State, or at least with its tolerance," the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled Monday, noting sexual violence against women was a systematic "weapon of war," per CBS and the Washington Post. The court found Colombia "internationally responsible" for violating Bedoya's rights, as the government bungled the investigation into the crime, failed to investigate a 1999 attack on the journalist and her mother, failed to protect Bedoya from other threats, and discriminated against her on the basis of her gender.

Bedoya, 47—who wrote in 2016 that "it took me many months to stop feeling filthy and many years to allow a man to touch me again"—said the historic decision was "vindication of the rights of thousands of women who have been victims of sexual violence and of women journalists who leave a part of their lives in their work." The government had apologized to the journalist, winner of the 2020 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize, at a March hearing. But its representatives walked out of that same hearing, calling for the recusal of five of six judges, per the Guardian.

Still, President Ivan Duque tweeted Monday that the government "fully accepts the decision"—it is not possible to appeal, per CBS—and will consider the sentence "as a guide to actions that can be implemented to prevent anything like this from happening again." The court ordered the government to pay damages, "punish those remaining responsible for the acts of violence," launch a full investigation, track violence against journalists, and fund protections for female journalists, among other things. (Read more Colombia stories.)

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