state condemnation in the kidnapping of journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima

While, under the guise of fighting the pandemic, press freedom is undermined by many authoritarian regimes (China, Russia, Nicaragua, etc.), the good news must be highlighted. Like the conviction, Monday, October 18, of the Colombian state by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights – judicial organ of the Organization of American States – in the kidnapping of journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima by paramilitaries in 2000. The Court demands measures to prevent such tragedies from happening again.

→ PORTRAIT. Jineth Bedoya Lima: never be silent, despite everything

In 2000, Jinet Bedoya Lima, 26-year-old journalist, investigated arms trafficking for the Bogota daily The viewer, a title whose rigor and seriousness have long embarrassed drug lords. After a long struggle, she had obtained an interview in a prison in the capital passed under the control of the paramilitaries, fierce opponents of the various guerrillas engaged in the armed conflict since the 1960s.

But the prison door never opened: a car took the journalist away, kidnapped, raped, with the complicity of members of the security services. Facts that “Could not be perpetrated without the consent and collaboration of the State, or at least with its tolerance”, ruled the Court. The Colombian state was found guilty of “Violation of the rights to physical security, honor and dignity, freedom of expression and judicial guarantees due to the failure to investigate previous threats received” by Jineth Bedoya Lima, the court said in a statement.

“Worthy” and “historic” decision

This decision, which cannot be appealed, has been welcomed by journalists’ defense organizations. In Colombia, the Foundation for Press Freedom welcomed this decision “Worthy” for a woman who “Tirelessly seeking justice for more than 20 years”. From Washington, the Committee to Protect Journalists has, for its part, welcomed “A historic decision”.

For Jineth Bedoya Lima, it is also, more broadly, a step forward in the fight for women’s rights. “October 18, 2021 goes down in history as the day when a struggle, which began with an individual crime, demanded the rights of thousands of women victims of sexual violence and of women journalists who give up part of their lives in their work “, she rejoiced on Twitter.

Last year, the journalist, now one of the leaders ofThe timeo, the most important Colombian daily, had received the Unesco World Press Freedom Prize. “The courage and commitment of Jineth Bedoya force our respect, she who as a woman and as a journalist is doubly exposed to unacceptable risks”, then declared the Director General of Unesco, Audrey Azoulay.

A campaign against violence against women

Beyond his personal case, Jineth Bedoya Lima launched a campaign against sexual violence against women ten years ago. «I was invited to a conference in Spain in 2009, and I insisted on the importance of talking about sexual violence. Now is not the time to shut up, I said. I did not have in mind at the time the idea of ​​launching a campaign. But that’s how she started ”, she confided last year in The cross.

→ CONTEXT. The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize celebrates press freedom

After her speech, she began to receive testimonies, first in her close social environment. Noting the extent of a phenomenon that was then very largely taboo in Colombia, she launched the slogan “It is not time to shut up” (“This is not the time to be silent”).

In its judgment, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered, in addition to the resumption of the investigation into the kidnapping – only a few people have been tried to date – several measures aimed at combating violence against women, including specific training for officials and security forces on this subject, as well as the construction of a place of remembrance ” It is not time to shut up For victims and the creation of a fund to finance programs aimed at protecting women journalists.

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