Journalist Jineth Bedoya of Colombia’s leading newspaper El Tiempo has been awarded the 2019 Press Freedom Grand Prize of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA).
Bedoya, who is currently the managing editor of the Bogota newspaper, became one of the most vociferous defenders of victims of sexual violence after she was raped by paramilitaries of the now-defunct AUC in 2000.
The journalist’s personal quest for justice and relentless defense of other victims of sexual violence has made Bedoya one of Colombia’most revered journalists, but also a frequent target of death threats.
We hope that the award to Jineth Bedoya will compensate to some degree the dangers and injustices to which she was exposed for so many years and will serve to create awareness of the risks to which many women journalists suffer.
IAPA President Maria Elvira Dominguez
In a response, Bedoya said she was humbled by the award, she called “a balm” for her daily struggles.
“My days go up and down. Sometimes I have my morale high, but at other times I feel an abyss when on the horizon I see that violence against women does not cease,” the journalist told her newspaper.
On Tuesday, hours before she received the phone call in which an IAPA representative told her she had won the award, she received another phone call with yet another death threat.
Bedoya’s quest for justice last month reached the Inter-American Court for Human Rights, which is investigating to which extent state officials were complicit in her kidnapping and rape.
Over the past 18 years, Bedoya has been able to push Colombia’s notoriously dysfunctional justice system to imprison the three former paramilitaries who took part in the rape.
It wasn’t until 2016 that her rapists were charged and the alleged involvement of a top police official, General Leonardo Gallego, came to light.
Investigations against the general have since barely progressed, spurring the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), which held the Colombian state responsible for Bedoya’s rape in January, to take the case to the highest possible human rights court in the Americas.