On Monday, 15th March, Ms. Bedoya Lima, the 2020 WAN-IFRA Golden Pen of Freedom laureate, gave detailed testimony recounting her horrific ordeal. Shortly after, the Colombian government’s legal team unprecedentedly withdrew in protest after demanding the recusal of five of the six sitting magistrates, alleging bias and a lack of objectivity in their questioning.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights brought the case to the I/A Court HR in May 2019 after it found the Colombian state had failed to comply with recommendations it had previously issued. It was hoped the long-awaited Court hearing this week would lead to a landmark legal decision reinforcing the obligations of states to protect and guarantee the safety of journalists, and in particular women journalists.
“Instead of celebrating – after 20 long years – justice for Jineth Bedoya Lima, we are left completely deceived by the Colombian government’s decision to withdraw from the hearing,” said WAN-IFRA CEO, Vincent Peyrègne. “We can only denounce what were apparently empty promises to prioritise the safety of journalists and accept responsibility for the crimes committed against Jineth – and all survivors of sexual violence.”
In a resolution published Wednesday, 17th March the I/A Court HR rejected as inadmissible the Colombian government’s allegations and determined that it would continue to hear the case until its conclusion.
WAN-IFRA calls on the Colombian government to comply with its international human rights obligations and recognise the authority of the I/A Court HR to hold power to account on behalf of victims.
“We condemn entirely this blatant attempt to delegitimise the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and with it Jineth Bedoya Lima’s case,” continued Vincent Peyrègne. “The Colombian government should be acutely aware of the toxic message their action sends both to their people and to the international community: that the rule of law is once again threatened, and victims of outrageous crimes should expect no justice in Colombia.”