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Wednesday, 21 October 2015 15:01

Fifteen Years of Impunity in the Case of Journalist Jineth Bedoya

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Washington, D.C. – October 2015During the 156th session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to be held in Washington from October 17 to 28, 2015, the Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP) will accompany journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima in her official working meeting with the Commission. FLIP will provide information demonstrating the ongoing impunity for the crimes committed against her in May 2000, when she was kidnapped, tortured, and sexually assaulted in the course of her work as a journalist.

FLIP deplores the fact that despite the public importance of her case, legal barriers have continued and have only grown worse in 2015.

Release and Re-Arrest of a Perpetrator

In late May, 15 years and a few days after the crimes were committed, the Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the immediate release of one of the perpetrators of the kidnapping, torture, and sexual violence against journalist Jineth Bedoya. This ruling ignored his confession and his identification by the victim, and failed to verify whether he was connected to other crimes. Days later, the Public Prosecutor’s Office overturned the decision, placed different officials in charge of the case, and ordered the re-arrest of Alejandro Cárdenas Orozco, alias “JJ." This incident represents a re-victimization and has had a serious impact:

"I see that this is the response of the Public Prosecutor's Office to 15 years of impunity. Its ineffectiveness hurts me deeply, but does not weaken my resolve to continue seeking justice,” said journalist Jineth Bedoya.

The Postponement of the First Trial.

On March 27, 2015 a specialized court in Bogota initiated proceedings against Mario Jaimes Mejía, alias "the baker," for the crimes of kidnapping, torture, and sexual violence. The first trial, which should have been a significant step forward, has fallen victim to the unbridled impunity in the Colombian legal system. The trial has been postponed three times this year, and proceedings will not resume until December 14.

The delays in this trial, along with the improper release of another perpetrator, place the journalist at greater risk both physically and emotionally.

Hope in the Inter-American Justice System

Since 2011, there has been an ongoing international case before the IACHR against the Colombian State for the actions perpetrated against the journalist. The international body is studying the Colombian State’s continuing breach of its duty to provide justice and the complicity of state agents in the crimes committed. The case has already been admitted and is now awaiting a response from the Colombian Government.

FLIP hopes that this formal meeting with the IACHR will lead the Colombian State to fully meet its duties of protection and prosecution under the provisions of the precautionary measures granted to Jineth Bedoya. The Colombian State must implement an appropriate investigative and legal strategy which helps uncover the truth and impose punishment on all individuals responsible for these actions.