Colombia: New report reveals that authorities fail survivors of sexual violence

“Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls in Colombia are often treated as trophies of war”

The Colombian authorities have failed to tackle the lack of justice for Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girl survivors of sexual violence during the country's long-running armed conflict, Amnesty International said in a new report launched in the Colombian capital Bogota today.

Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

“Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls in Colombia are often treated as trophies of war. They are raped and sexually abused by all the warring parties as a way to silence and punish them.

“Since President Santos took office in 2010, the government has made clear commitments to tackle the human rights crisis but we have yet to see real improvements in bringing to justice those responsible for human rights abuses, such as sexual violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.”

Amnesty International’s report, ‘This is what we demand. Justice!’ Impunity for sexual violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Colombia’s armed conflict, documents how the rights of survivors of sexual violence to truth, justice and reparation continue to be denied by the authorities.

Colombia’s security forces, paramilitaries and guerrilla groups have all targetted Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls to exploit them as sexual slaves and to effect revenge on adversaries.

Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls from Indigenous, Afro-descendent and peasant farmer communities, those forcibly displaced by fighting and those living in poverty are particular targets of sexual violence. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights human rights defenders have also been targets of threats and intimidation.

Amnesty International spoke to many rape survivors in Colombia, some of whom sought to report the crimes to the authorities.

Carolina (not her real name) was a community leader in a town in Caldas Department, north west Colombia. When in 2007 Carolina’s son was raped by a boy linked to the paramilitaries, she reported the crime to the authorities.

Members of the paramilitary group tried to get her to withdraw her complaint. When she refused, they threatened her and forced her to watch them mutilate some of their victims. In May 2007, Carolina was kidnapped and raped by eight paramilitaries. She subsequently discovered she was pregnant as a result of the rape. When the paramilitary commander found out, he ordered his men to beat her; she lost the baby.

In June 2007, the protection programme of the Office of the Attorney General rehoused her in another town. But the threats continued and so she was eventually relocated elsewhere. She was in the protection programme for a year, but is no longer receiving protection.

The case continued to be investigated in Caldas Department and the prosecutor called on Carolina to testify in the town where the crime took place and where the perpetrators still lived.

In September 2008, and after pressure from Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s NGOs, the case was transferred to the Human Rights Unit of the Office of the Attorney General in Bogotá. However, the Unit has never called Carolina to testify.

In August 2010, the prosecutor was removed from the case. The new prosecutor has apparently only recently begun to review Carolina’s case.

Susan Lee added:

“The Colombian authorities must take decisive action to ensure those responsible for crimes of sexual violence, many of which are either war crimes or crimes against humanity, are brought to justice. If the authorities continue to fail in doing so, the International Criminal Court should step in.”

Note to Editors
Amnesty International’s report ‘This is what we demand. Justice!’ Impunity for sexual violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Colombia’s armed conflict is available from the Amnesty press office on request.

Facts and figures on human rights in Colombia, stories of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights survivors of violence and photos are available upon request.

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