Knight Center
Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya refuses to testify yet again in the case of her abduction and torture



This is at least the 12th time journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima has been called by the Colombian Attorney General to testify in the case of her kidnapping, torture and sexual assault that occurred more than 17 years ago.

The last time Bedoya Lima appeared before the court was March 1, when she had to testify in front of her attackers. That day affected Bedoya "physically, psychologically and emotionally."

That's why, according to a message posted on her Twitter account on Sept. 11, Bedoya said she will not comply with the new subpoena that the attorney general called for the 22nd of this month. She said the entity wants to identify some people involved in her case in a process that, she explained, was already carried out three years ago.

"Sirs of the prosecution, I do not have time to go to this hearing, I will not go," the reporter said in her message. "Let it be in your conscience that you were not able of exercising justice in my case and that there are more important things: giving voice to women who survive."

The journalist explained that she prefers to continue working on a project she is carrying out with women survivors of sexual violence in the municipality of Tumaco in the Nariño department, one of the regions most affected by the country's armed conflict.

The journalist was kidnapped in front of Modelo jail in Bogota where she had come to interview a former head of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) on May 25, 2000. After suffering torture and sexual violence, she was abandoned on a highway.

Since then, and without abandoning her journalistic work, she has sought justice that has led her to investigate her own case. As she explained, in addition to paramilitaries, agents of the State also participated in the crime.

On multiple occasions, Bedoya and her legal representatives, including the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP for its acronym in Spanish), have criticized the prosecution's repeated subpoenas that "revictimize" her.

One of these times was before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) – an entity that is also analyzing the case – at a hearing in April 2016. At that time, one of the Commissioners asked the Colombian State if it did not consider the constant revictimization of Bedoya to testify “over and over” about her crime to be a “failure” of the investigation.

"Would the State agree that repeatedly asking about her abduction, torture and rape denotes the failure of its investigators?" the commissioner asked at the 2016 hearing. "Because taking statements of sexual violence is a very sensitive, painful and dramatic event for the victim so you must have a person properly trained to do so. Do you not accept that your officials have failed in their duties? "

In the more than 17 years investigating this crime, only two people have been sentenced. Both decisions came last year.

However, Bedoya has explained that according to her investigation of the crime, all the people implicated have not been called forward, and there is no advancement in terms of the masterminds behind the crime.



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