New York, March 16, 2021 – The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Colombian government to return to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights hearing on the case of Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya and to respect its obligations to ensure justice in cases of violence against journalists.
Colombian officials withdrew in protest yesterday after the first day of a virtual public hearing to determine state responsibility for the 2000 kidnapping, rape and torture of journalist Jineth Bedoya, according to reports and the BogotÃ¡-based Press Freedom Foundation (FLIP). . The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights took the case to court in May 2019 after finding that the Colombian state failed to comply with its recommendations issued in January of the same year, according to press reports. . The government’s legal team withdrew after demanding the disqualification of five of the six judges overseeing the case, citing alleged bias and “lack of objectivity” in their questioning of Bedoya. The court said in a press release that it is adjourning today’s hearing and has yet to postpone the remaining two hearing days.
âThe Colombian government‘s decision to withdraw from the Inter-American Court hearing shows the authorities’ shocking contempt for the violence inflicted on Jineth Bedoya and is a slap in the face for all Colombian journalists – especially women journalists – who are fighting against it. ‘impunity,’ said Natalie Southwick, CPJ’s program coordinator for Central and South America. âIf the Colombian government cannot accept responsibility in Bedoya’s case, what hope does another journalist have for justice? Instead of choosing procedural fights, the Colombian government should take this opportunity to set a regional example and immediately resume proceedings. “
On May 25, 2000, Bedoya was abducted outside a prison in BogotÃ¡ where she was to interrogate a member of a paramilitary group, and taken to another town, where she was beaten and raped, according to the office of the Colombian Attorney General. Colombian courts have since sentenced three of its attackers to prison terms, as documented by CPJ, but authorities have failed to identify or prosecute other senior figures believed to be implicated in the crime.
Editor’s Note: The year of the Bedoya bombing has been corrected in the second paragraph.