"Physical, sexual and psychological torture of Jineth Bedoya could not have been carried out without the collaboration of the State": Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling

Tuesday, 04 July 2023

"Physical, sexual and psychological torture of Jineth Bedoya could not have been carried out without the collaboration of the State": Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) issued a historic ruling in the case of journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima against Colombia, in which it analyzes for the first time the use of sexual violence as a form of silencing and control against a woman journalist in the context of the Colombian armed conflict.

Learn more
The State and its complicit silence

Sunday, 02 July 2023

The State and its complicit silence

The authorities' silence in the face of the unusual levels of violence against the press in the coverage of the national strike is surprising. Is it a form of support or denial of the aggressions? By action or omission, what the public entities have done sets a terrible precedent regarding the political will of the State to guarantee the right of citizens to receive information of high public interest.

Learn more
Preserving Democracy Begins With Protecting Journalism

Wednesday, 09 March 2022

Preserving Democracy Begins With Protecting Journalism

We closed out the year with journalism in Colombia in a weakened state and uncertain as to what the incoming class of public officials will do next amid an ongoing crisis in media and press freedom. With the aim of contributing to the debate, in this edition we present a series of proposals to address nine threats to the future of journalism in Colombia.

By Jonathan Bock, Executive Director of the Foundation for the Liberty of the Press

The year 2021 marked a turning point for journalism in Colombia. Only a few months into the year, it had already become clear that there are no guarantees for those engaged in social protests movements. The Ministry of Defense implemented a new cyber patrol policy to monitor the content of posts on social media networks. Meanwhile, majorities in both the Senate and the House approved a bill to shield public officials from press investigations and increase punishments against journalists. In the end the bill was withdrawn thanks to pressure from civil society groups, but the episode laid bare the true intentions of legislators. 

Once again, we are confronted with the murder of a journalist, that of Marcos Efraín Montalvo, in Tulúa. And all the while, global problems intensified too, like the economic crisis facing the media industry, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

We finish the year with a press that is weakened and burdened by uncertainty over how the next batch of legislators, and the next president, mean to address these challenges. The officials elected this year must form a plan to save journalism in this country. Otherwise, the crisis is sure to deepen, and the situation for the press in Colombia will soon have more in common with Venezuela, Nicaragua or El Salvador. 

With the aim of contributing to the debate on how to address these issues, we have consulted experts, studied international cases and closely followed initiatives promoted by UNESCO, the United Nations, and the offices of the Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression. The result is a series of proposals to address nine problems that threaten journalism.

This roadmap is only a starting point. It should be supplemented with ideas from different sectors and reinforced through wide-ranging discussions that allow us to go deeper into key issue areas, such as the allocation of public resources to support the media. Also, it will be necessary to find the political will to guarantee greater independence in the public media system and to prevent embezzlement in the allocation of public advertising funds. 

This plan, based on the genuinely held beliefs of our leaders, should be coordinated with proposals that have emerged in other countries, all in the spirit of promoting the idea that access to the media and information be considered a fundamental public good.

Of course, we are aware that none of these solutions is without its drawbacks, and for the moment a perfect fix to the crisis does not exist. Nonetheless, these solutions are tailored to address each problem individually, considering its specific features and challenges, and designed, above all, not to further damage democracy.

Take note of this: Since its founding in 1996, FLIP has promoted the defense and protection of journalists to allow them to carry out their work without fear of reprisal. We have never endorsed a political party and we will not do so in the 2022 elections. FLIP's sole cause and objective is to promote journalism through the defense of the principle of freedom of expression. We will seek to advance this agenda with all candidates, and we will continue our oversight of those who occupy Congress as well as those who reach the Presidency. 

Learn more
"Physical, sexual and psychological torture of Jineth Bedoya could not have been carried out without the collaboration of the State": Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

"Physical, sexual and psychological torture of Jineth Bedoya could not have been carried out without the collaboration of the State": Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling

October 18, 2021, Washington, D.C., Bogotá - The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) issued a historic ruling in the case of journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima against Colombia, in which it analyzes for the first time the use of sexual violence as a form of silencing and control against a woman journalist in the context of the Colombian armed conflict.

"October 18, 2021 goes down in history as the day that a struggle, which began with an individual crime, led to the revindication of the rights of thousands of women victims and survivors of sexual violence and women journalists who leave part of their lives in their profession" said Jineth Bedoya, journalist, victim and survivor.

In its ruling, the Court declared Colombia responsible for the violation of various rights, including the right to personal integrity, personal liberty, honor and dignity, and freedom of thought and expression of journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima, as a result of the events that occurred on May 25, 2000, when she was intercepted, kidnapped and subjected to numerous physical, sexual and verbal assaults while reporting on crimes and human rights violations committed inside the Modelo prison in Bogotá.

The Inter-American Court recognized the existence of acts of torture that had a clear connection with her journalistic activity and were intended to punish, intimidate and silence her. The Court found that the attacks against the journalist not only violated her freedom of expression at the individual level, but also had a collective impact, both on Colombian society in its right to information and on other people who practiced journalism. In relation to the threats that Jineth Bedoya has received since at least 1999, the Court ruled that due to the lack of investigation these constitute acts of torture.

In its judgment, the Court found that there was serious, precise and consistent evidence of State involvement in the acts of physical, sexual and psychological torture against the journalist. The Court determined that these acts could not have been carried out without the acquiescence and collaboration of the State, or at least with its tolerance. This is even more serious considering that Jineth was investigating crimes committed by organized crime with the intervention of state agents inside the Modelo prison.

 Due to the severe climate of impunity and the use of gender stereotypes and discrimination in the investigation of Jineth Bedoya's case for more than two decades, the Court declared Colombia's international responsibility for the violation of the rights to due process, judicial protection and equality before the law due to the lack of due diligence in the investigations.

The ruling recognizes that Colombia is currently experiencing a serious context of threats, attacks and murders against social leaders and human rights defenders, including journalists.

The Court ordered a series of reparation measures, including symbolic measures and guarantees of non-repetition to repair the damage caused to Jineth Bedoya and to society in general.

Among the reparation measures ordered by the Court, we highlight the obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish all those responsible for the crimes committed against the journalist, particularly taking into account that the Court determined that to date the masterminds and other co-perpetrators who may have participated in the kidnapping and assault of Jineth Bedoya and subsequent threats have not been determined.

 In addition, the Court ordered Colombia to carry out "a comprehensive policy for the protection of journalists, the creation of the "Investigative Center No es Hora de Callar," the design and implementation of a public system for the collection of updated data and figures on gender-based violence and on threats and violence against journalists and human rights defenders; and the creation of a fund for the prevention, protection and assistance of women journalists who are victims of gender-based violence.

The Court's judgement demonstrates the existence of the systematic use of sexual violence against women during the Colombian armed conflict and the particular risk faced by women journalists. It also demonstrates the existence of systematic and widespread impunity in relation to sexual violence during the conflict.

Jineth Bedoya has been tirelessly seeking justice for more than 20 years and has become a symbol and leader in the fight against sexual violence, particularly in relation to women journalists. This decision by the Inter-American Court is dignifying not only for Jineth but represents hope for the thousands of victims of sexual violence during the Colombian armed conflict.

The organizations representing the case in the international process are the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP). 

Press conference:

Rueda de prensa: 



Learn more
The State and its complicit silence

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

The State and its complicit silence

The authorities' silence in the face of the unusual levels of violence against the press in the coverage of the national strike is surprising. Is it a form of support or denial of the aggressions? By action or omission, what the public entities have done sets a terrible precedent regarding the political will of the State to guarantee the right of citizens to receive information of high public interest. 

In days when the press was under attack, as it hadn't been seen in decades, it was a priority for the institutions called to guarantee freedom and plurality of information to fight for the protection of reporters. However, no state institution or public authority defended the practice of journalism in a clear and unambiguous manner. It was a fundamental first step in the urgency of finding specific measures to guarantee that the vital work done by the press could be done without fear of reprisals or injury. The absence of this defense ended up generating an atmosphere of permissiveness, encouraging censorship and, consequently, denying independent information to the public. The State failed to fulfill its responsibility to protect a right established in the Constitution. 

Control entities made of paper 

On June 8, 2021, the Attorney General's Office notified the journalists of the media LocoSapiens that they would close the investigation opened as a result of the aggressions suffered by three journalists of the team by the security forces in Sibaté, Cundinamarca. This was the justification: "However, the pertinent acts of verification were carried out, establishing that the complainant has not shown any 

interest in the facts denounced, for which reason there is no material evidence that could be useful for the investigation to be successful, thus concluding that it is impossible to have the necessary information". 

A month had passed since the journalists filed the complaint. The Prosecutor's Office had the evidentiary material of the aggression which, in addition, was widely known by the public opinion: in the video it is heard how the reporters shout at the

top of their lungs that they are the press while they take refuge behind some bushes trying to dodge the shots fired by the police. Suspending the investigation of this case ignores all the constitutional mandates of The Prosecutor's Office. The following day FLIP published a statement informing about the situation and hours later, the entity announced that it would reopen the investigation. 

For FLIP, the Prosecutor's Office does not seem to have the intention to look into the origins of these aggressions nor to adopt preventive measures, much less a clear commitment to investigate and punish this violence. The lack of diligence with which investigations are being conducted, particularly in those cases where public agents are responsible, is worrying. 

Late night mayoralties 

Few local authorities have issued responses to the violence against the press. Most of them have been belated, some of them disarticulated with the direct and sustained aggressions of the two months of protests, and others were reactive and with political interest to position a message of alleged guarantee of freedom of the press before the IACHR. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

In the case of Bogota and Medellin, the mayoress and the mayor made statements on June 29 and July 2, respectively. Their messages addressed only very specific cases. In the capital of the country, at the time of Claudia Lopez's communication, 65 aggressions had been registered, and in Medellin 33. The lack of support from the highest authorities in the cities is alarming, it favors the continuity of aggressions and invisibilizes the seriousness of violence against the press. 

On the other hand, FLIP has not received direct communications from the mayors of Popayán and Cali, despite the fact that both cities have been focal points of violence against journalists during the days of the strike. 

Public force as the aggressor, not guarantor 

The acts of police brutality committed during the months of demonstrations prompted a national conversation about the police. Its outcome was the announcement by President Duque that he will push for a reform before the Congress. 

The abuse of force by police officers has had a direct impact on freedom of expression and journalistic practice, and since the demonstrations of 2019, protest spaces and militarized places are an extremely hostile environment for the press: rubber bullets, damage to equipment, injuries and threats are part of the coverage. In total, 216 journalists were assaulted by an agent. 

The shortcomings of the armed forces in terms of training on freedom of expression issues were fully exposed. The high stigmatization that exists in the institution towards the work of the media was also evident. Normally, before or after an aggression, the agents would launch some phrase such as "tabloid press" or some 'sobering' comment about how reporters should do their work. 

The Minister of Defense, Diego Molano, far from assuming a position in accordance with this reality, deepened the stigmatization: in different spaces, closed and public, he attacked freedom of expression and reproached the free flow of

information in social networks. 

The minister was the visible head of the campaign #ColombiaEsMiVerdad which he defended saying: "information like this is digital terrorism and its false", "it is false that the police attack the public peacefullt demonstrating" and "let's unite, lies generate hate". 

Far from supporting the work of the press and the free flow of information, what this proposal did was to point out and put at risk the journalists who cover these scenarios. 

When the Congress advanced the failed motion of censure to Molano, he did not make any acknowledgement, nor did he pronounce himself on the risk of self-censorship generated by this type of messages. The minister reaffirmed in his speech: "Many times it is very easy to tell lies that do not require evidence and move quickly through social media. But it is up to us public officials to assume the truth (...) as a public official we assume that responsibility".

Learn more
Violence to prevent the flow of information

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Violence to prevent the flow of information

Police officers and private citizens repeat patterns of aggressions against journalists, they fuel stigmatization and obstruct the circulation of information. They also forget that the press is not there to ratify their speeches or extol their image. These are the forms of aggression and the numbers of aggressions against journalists that FLIP has documented between April 28 and July 19. 


Members of the police have been the biggest aggressors against journalists covering social demonstrations. Despite the fact that their duty is to protect citizens and guarantee the exercise of journalism, they have beaten, kicked, shot, detained and threatened those who are doing the coverage from the streets. 


7 categories of aggression by the security forces against journalists:7 categories of aggression by the security forces against journalists: 

  1. Physical assault (8 patterns) 
  2. Threats (2 patterns) 
  3. Illegal detention (2 patterns) 
  4. Obstruction of the journalistic exercise (3 patterns) 
  5. Harassment (1 pattern) 
  6. Theft or removal of journalistic material (3 pattern) 
  7. Violation of the source confidentiality (1 pattern) 

Although the responsibility level of a police officer is very different from that of a civilian, and so should be the way they ought behave in scenarios of social protest, citizens must also respect the exercise of the press. These aggressors may be demonstrators or civilians in favor or against social protest. 


10 categories of aggression: 

  1. Physical assault 
  2. Threats 
  3. Damage to infrastructure 
  4. Stigmatization 
  5. Exclusion 
  6. Harassment 
  7. Obstruction of the journalistic exercise
  8. Theft or removal of journalistic material 
  9. Arbitrary actions in social media
  10. Espionage or invasion 
Learn more
Say my name ¡I am journalism!

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Say my name ¡I am journalism!

In addition to the violence against the press, the State has criticized and lectured on what good journalism is, questioning its democratic value. There are several forms of journalism, all of them valid, and it is the audiences who decide how good or bad they consider them to be. 

In the face of the violence against journalists, there was no indignation or messages of rejection, but there were attacks and sobering stigmatizations about what "good journalism" is. Citizen media have stood out in the midst of these aggressions, but have been labeled as enemies of the State. 

What's desirable journalism? How much objectivity is necessary? What is the matrix and the limits that the media should follow? Turning the identity and mission of journalism into a public debate ends up being a defeat for plurality and a victory for authoritarianism and for those officials who deepen the fragility of Colombian journalism. Do we debate about good and bad accountants or do we accept that their heads are broken with a baton for not having filed their income tax returns properly or because when they did it they had a whiff of sensationalism in their eyes? 

The recent months have been the most violent against the press in recent decades. In less than 90 days, 342 journalists who were covering social demonstrations were victims of some kind of aggression. Some 216 were assaulted by law enforcement officers. 

There was no indignation, preventive measures or messages of support for reporters. There were, on the contrary, sobering messages on how to do good journalism. We heard it from the government, mayors, and commanders of the security forces. They also launched phrases showing their contempt and stigmatization for those citizens who "carry a camera and play at being journalists". All kinds of adjectives: sectarian journalism, the activist old guy, alternative media, prepaid. All of them. 

Generating this debate, inside and outside journalism, installing the issue as a concern, and swelling the journalistic exercise with all kinds of questions has called into question the value of a democratic pillar and has brought to the razor's edge the mantras that had been installed in free societies: that the exercise of journalism is fundamental for a citizenry that defends the expression of its ideas. 

Read and download here the editing of Pages for Freedom of Speech Amidst the rustling of blows and attacks, grass also grew. The 2021 demonstrations will mark a milestone for citizen media and for plurality. The penetration of social networks, lower costs and civic mobilization have served as a springboard for university media, photographers and empirical journalists to be the protagonists of a new story. Their impact on audiences is evident in the

streets of Medellín, Popayán or Cali. A phenomenon that had already been announced in November 2019. 

At the same time that groups of citizens protect them, they are subject to persecution, threats and constant stigmatization that seek to label them as enemies of the State, the same invisible gags that have operated in Colombia in the most recent years. 

The expansion, consolidation, and constant presence of these citizen media challenge the logics of the establishment and offer citizens opportunities for voice, particularly to communities that lack constant access to media. "In the community, for the community, about the community and by the community," reads a Unesco slogan about this journalism. 

There are no single, valid answers about the journalism’s mission. There are journalisms, that are, different and opposite models. All of them are valid, as bad or as good as their audience decides. However, this is a discussion that should be strengthened and maintained in the academy and in the daily practice of the media, not in the corridors or in the offices of public buildings. 

Learn more
Colombian press under attack in national strikes

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Colombian press under attack in national strikes

Amid a national strike and widespread protests that have roiled cities across Colombia in recent weeks, journalists covering the events have been subjected to violence and intimidation in incidents that span the country. 

Since the unrest began in late April, FLIP has documented at least 159 separate assaults on 184 journalists, and it isn’t restricted to the actions of one side. These include violent assaults on members of the press by government forces and protestors alike. The attacks mark a serious uptick in violence against the press in Colombia; FLIP documented similar numbers—150 attacks against 182 journalists—over the course of the three years preceding this latest round of unrest. 

Santiago Amaya, a journalism student and reporter for Revista Solsticio was covering a protest on May 1, in Duitama, in northeastern Colombia, when he was encircled by half a dozen uniformed police who subjected him to torture and arbitrary detention, and threatened him with extrajudicial execution. Police officers took his backpack, looked through and selectively deleted his photos, and stole the sim card from his cell phone. Then they beat him on his arms and back and bloodied his nose with a baton, simulated a lynching on him, threw him in a prison cell, told him his profession—journalism—was worthless and that he was going to die. Finally, they released him in a rural area, telling him simply to "run."

On May 12, in the town of Popayán, in western Colombia, Kevin Acosta, a reporter for the digital medium Red Alterna, was taking video of a uniformed police officer beating a young protestor when Acosta was surrounded by six police officers, thrown to the ground and beaten across his head, arms and chest as police tried to take away his cell phone. Throughout the incident—as well as a previous attack by the riot control squad of the Colombian National Police—Acosta was clearly identified as a journalist with a press vest, helmet and visible press credentials. Also in Popayán, journalist Óscar Solarte reported being pelted with rocks by hooded demonstrators, while similarly-attired protestors repeatedly tried to take journalist Juan Ortega’s phone after he recorded video of protestors throwing stones at City Hall. Elsewhere reporters have been severely injured in direct attacks on the press from government forces, like in the rural town of Sibaté, where on the early morning of May 6, riot police shot directly at reporters who were clearly identified as members of the press with helmets and press credentials. Though two journalists were injured in the attack the ambulance they called for never arrived. The entire incident was broadcast live. 

The above represent a tiny segment of the 145 assaults on reporters covering these demonstrations since they began. 

The Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP) condemns attacks on the press in the strongest possible terms and calls on leaders in government and the protest movement to publicly disavow attacks against the press and express zero tolerance for the practice. Sadly, though police are responsible for roughly half of the assaults on journalists covering the protest movement, the national government has yet to issue any public condemnation on acts of violence against the press and local authorities have been largely silent as well. 

Meanwhile, troubling developments behind the scenes suggests government officials are working to curtail press freedom further. Local and national authorities have repeatedly refused to release official information related to the protest movement, law enforcement activities, and the victims of violence. At the same time that the government has refused to grant the press access to official information, it has embarked on a troubling, anti-democratic campaign to silence and discredit non-official sources of information. On May 6, top brass in the Colombian military and police released a new initiative aimed at combating what it called “digital terrorism”—the spread of false and fake information masquerading as news reports and government pronouncements. In response to the initiative, some journalists have informed FLIP that they plan to self-censor in order to avoid being monitored, blocked or worse by the authorities. While fake news and false reports are a real problem, the way to combat them is not through state-sponsored censorship, but through a robust and free press able to report openly on consequential people and events. 

Elsewhere in government, officials have allegedly been caught on tape discussing strategies for pressuring the cash-strapped media to spin reports in favor of the ruling party by dangling lucrative advertising contracts, a strategy the Duque government has employed in the past.


Amid ongoing demonstrations, FLIP reiterates the following requests:

  1. We demand that President Duque and the Minister of the Interior publicly reject violence against the press and send a clear message of zero tolerance for the members of the government forces involved in said aggressions.
    In addition, we call on the Duque government not to use the campaigns against disinformation as a tool to stigmatize the press and criminalize the dissemination of information. FLIP reiterates that authorities and public figures must not encourage censorship. Where complaints against the press exist, their duty is to channel them through the proper constitutional means that exist to express disagreements.
  2. We invite leadership of the national strike to send a message of support for the work of journalists, disavow attacks on the press, and to express any disagreements with the media in a respectful manner that does not threaten press freedom.

  3. The Attorney General of the Nation announced that it will investigate the ESMAD agents for the violence deployed against the press in Sibaté, Cundinamarca, on May 6. This investigation should be extended to all attacks against the press in which members of the security forces have participated.
    We also request the attorney general to urgently and publicly call upon all officials to fulfill their duty to release information to the press in a timely manner, and initiate disciplinary investigations against those who do not.  

  1. We ask local authorities to provide a public and satisfactory explanation of events that resulted in bodily injury to members of the press who were covering  demonstrations. In particular, we insist on a timely response to the request made a few days ago to the mayors of Cali, Bogotá, Medellín, Popayán and Sibaté, where serious acts of violence have been observed against journalists covering protests.


Learn more
Judicial Harassment of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders, the Victim is Freedom of Speech

Tuesday, 04 May 2021

Judicial Harassment of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders, the Victim is Freedom of Speech

  • On World Press Freedom Day (May 3), FLIP and ARTÍCULO 19 México, unite to curb judicial harassment of journalists and human rights defenders.

  • In the framework of this date, FLIP and ARTÍCULO 19 México, with support from Justice for Journalists, present the report: Laws of Silence, Judicial Harassment to Freedom of Speech in Mexico and Colombia. 

  • Judicial persecution and harassment are the abuse of judicial mechanisms to censor and intimidate persons who disclose information of public interest, whether for their journalistic work and/or for the defense of human rights.

Read the report here

Judicial harassment is a form of aggression involving legal actions against journalists or whistleblowers who investigate and report, for the most part, on corruption and irregularities in State entities. Some of these actions are usually civil lawsuits, criminal charges, administrative proceedings, or constitutional actions (in the case of Colombia). 

Such lawsuits are often supported in the defense of goodwill, honor, and privacy of public officers and individuals with public exposure. The judicial processes that are undertaken are aimed at intimidating journalists, affecting them emotionally and economically, and discouraging their investigative work. 

FLIP and ARTÍCULO 19 have noticed an increase in judicial harassment cases in recent years. For both organizations, it is very worrying that both Colombian and Mexican legislation have regulations that allow judicial harassment, and that many judges and officers of the judicial apparatus issue judgments against journalists completely opposed to international standards of freedom of speech. 

Therefore, in judicial harassment, the victim is not only the journalist or whistleblower, but also the society that sees its rights repressed. The rights to receive information and freedom of the press and of expression of all citizens are being oppressed.


The Report

Laws of Silence is a report that offers a parallel look at cases and conditions of judicial harassment in Mexico and Colombia. The authors discuss laws that facilitate judicial harassment in both countries, and the patterns of State behavior in the face of this form of aggression against the press. They also feature cases of journalists and human rights defenders who have faced excessive and arbitrary judicial proceedings, and explain the different damages suffered by victims of judicial harassment: Economic, labor, emotional, and even physical, because often, lawsuits come together with threats and attacks on the integrity of journalists.


The Figures

Judicial harassment is not a new strategy of silencing. It has been used worldwide against social organizations, but there now seems to be a boom in the use of this mechanism against the press. Between 2018 and 2020, FLIP recorded 140 cases of judicial harassment of journalists in Colombia. In the same period, ARTÍCULO 19 recorded 81 cases. 

FLIP began recording cases of judicial harassment in Colombia in 2017, when 14 cases were counted. In 2018 there were 38. 66 in 2019, and finally 36 in 2020. 

According to ARTÍCULO 19’s records, only one case was recorded in Mexico in 2015. For 2016, there were 13. Again, 13 in 2017. 21 in 2018. 21 in 2019, and finally a rise to 39 in 2020. 


The Cases

The Laws of Silence report presents eight cases of journalists and human rights defenders from both countries, including those of Colombian journalists Gonzalo Guillén, Juan Pablo Barrientos, Edison Lucio Torres, and Sergio Mesa. 

In this systematization of cases, the authors were able to see some similar patterns, such as the fact that the plaintiffs or censors are almost always State officers or public personalities, such as politicians and influential religious figures. 

It is alarming that in Colombia and Mexico the judicial apparatus is provided for the service of private and individual interests. Judicial harassment punishes the messenger, the complainant, and thus the right of everyone to receive information and for the freedom of speech. 



Learn more
Colombia revictimizes and impedes access to justice for Jineth Bedoya

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Colombia revictimizes and impedes access to justice for Jineth Bedoya

On Monday, March 15, the public hearing in the case of Jineth Bedoya Lima began at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. At issue before the court is the State’s responsibility for threats against Jineth Bedoya, as well as her kidnapping, torture and rape in May 2000. During the hearing, the National Agency for Legal Defense of Colombia, represented by Camilo Gómez, alleged that the majority of the Court’s judges are not impartial in the case, and announced that it will present a request for recusal against five of the six judges due to an alleged lack of procedural guarantees. The State decided to leave the hearing, and the State’s witness did not appear to testify before the Court.

For the Colombian State, the questions and comments made by the judges, including Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito, President of the Court, revealed bias in favor of Jineth Bedoya. As her legal representatives, we, CEJIL and FLIP, state unequivocally that the comments from the judges were dignifying and appropriate, as they had just heard the courageous testimony from a survivor of grave human rights violations; the comments did not in any way prejudge the State’s responsibility in the case.  

In fact, it is the job and the obligation of judges to question witnesses about facts germane to the case—this includes context, which helps the judges to understand the scope of violations and the measures that could constitute reparation for the victim. In her testimony, Jineth Bedoya answered questions related to the object of her declaration, as pre-approved by the Court. This included: her work as a journalist and the journalistic investigations she carried out in and prior to 2000, the risks she faced as a result, her requests for protection and the State response to this situation. Likewise, she narrated the events of May 25, 2000 and the impact that these events have had on her life ever since.

In her testimony, Jineth stated that National Police officers suggested that she interview paramilitary leaders at La Modelo prison in order to mitigate the threats against her as a result of her investigative journalism. She stated that this interview was a “trap” that led to her kidnapping, torture, and rape. She also described how the perpetrators stated to her that their acts were a “lesson” or “punishment” for her journalism. She described multiple pieces of evidence of the responsibility of State agents for her kidnapping, which have been ignored in the prosecutor’s investigation; in contrast, she described how she was revictimized in the course of the investigation, being called twelve times to make statements describing the torture and rape to which she was subjected. The State’s representative recognized this revictimization at the public hearing.

As organizations that represent Jineth Bedoya, we denounce the State’s attitude in this case, which demonstrates the State’s indifference to the victims of sexual violence during Colombia’s armed conflict and denies dignified spaces for access to justice. Colombia’s decision to leave the public hearing is unprecedented and gives cause for concern about its commitment to justice for human rights violations and its eventual compliance with the decision of the Court.

Moreover, we denounce this action as part of a strategy to delegitimize the Inter-American Court and create new obstacles in this process, which continues to punish Jineth Bedoya for making her voice heard. This is a new attempt to silence her.

As legal representatives, we call on Colombia to reappear at the scheduled hearing, in compliance with its international human rights obligations and in accordance with the Court’s order. Appearance at the hearing will contribute to the dignity and redress that this international legal process can provide, regardless of the eventual content of the decision.

Learn more