Colombian authorities have not effectively addressed the lack of justice for female survivors of sexual violence during the armed conflict, NGO Amnesty International has stated in a report published Wednesday.
The report titled “This is what we demand: That there be justice,” gives statistics of cases of sexual violence against women as a part of the armed conflict, condemns the impunity of the perpetrators, details particular cases and gives recommendations of what Colombian justice authorities should do to address the issue.
“In Colombia, women and girls are often treated like trophies of war. They are raped, subjected to sexual abuse to silence and punish them by all sides of the conflict,” said Susan Lee, Amnesty’s regional program director for America.
Impunity for acts of sexual violence committed against women is testament to the fact that the authorities continue to deny survivors of sexual violence their right to truth, justice, and reparation, according to the report.
It is difficult to assess the true extent of the problem due to the lack of reliable official statistics and the fear associated with reporting these crimes.
In 2010 the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science carried out 20,142 examinations of possible cases of sexual violence, compared with 12,732 cases in 2000. However only 109 of these cases were classified as being related to the armed conflict, which highlights the invisibility of these crimes. Furthermore when the women have the courage to report a case of rape or sexual violence, it is rarely investigated effectively.
Obstacles to justice are the historic nonexistence of political will to combat impunity, efficient protection methods for witnesses and survivors, lack of training for judicial officials on gender issues and the fact that in national legislation rape is not defined as a crime under international law.