Colombia’s government has failed to stop and punish sexual violence against women, according to Amnesty International Thursday.
The Colombian authorities must do more to address the ongoing sexual violence against women and should therefore make it a top priority at the peace talks with FARC guerrillas, according to a report published by Amnesty International Thursday.
“You can’t have a lasting peace agreement without a firm commitment to human rights… Human rights must be at the top of the agenda at the peace talks,” Marcelo Pollack, author of the report, told Colombia Reports Thursday.
“By failing to investigate effectively sexual violence against women, the Colombian authorities are sending a dangerous message to perpetrators that they can continue to rape and sexually abuse without fear of the consequences,” said Pollack.
The author blamed much of the imbroglio on the poor implementation of existing decrees. “The problem in Colombia has not primarily been the lack of good laws,” he said, but rather, “protocols have not been applied effectively and consistently across the country, particularly outside the major cities.”
A lack of resources has been a central problem in executing Colombia’s laws against sexual violence. In particular, Pollack referenced a lack of properly trained officials and a high turnover rate of staff. As a result, “many of the victims who do come forward have to repeat their testimony over and over again.”
According to the Amnesty International representative, the main perpetrators of sexual violence against women come from three main groups: the Colombian armed forces, neo-paramilitaries and the guerrillas. As many crimes involving sexual abuse in Colombia go unreported, Pollack was unable to provide accurate figures on how many sexual related crimes each group was responsible for.
Looking forward, he believes the International Criminal Court should make a decision on whether to open a full investigation into the situation in Colombia. The position of Amnesty International is that such an investigation is warranted.
Pollack was also optimistic about a new bill before Colombia’s House of Representatives “to guarantee access to justice for victims of sexual violence, especially sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict,” saying that, “if it passes, the bill offers a real chance of progress.”
Whilst the report focuses exclusively on sexual abuse against women, Pollack also confirmed that there have been numerous cases of sexual violence against men, particularly young boys.