Annual Report: Colombia 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Colombia 2013

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  • On 29 January, Cleiner María Almanza Blanco, a community leader working with displaced women, was forced into a taxi by a group of unidentified men. They took her to an undisclosed location where they interrogated her about people she knew and worked with. They kicked her and slammed her against the taxi. One of the men then raped her. In 2010 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had ordered the authorities to provide protection measures for Cleiner María Almanza and 13 other women leaders at risk; four of the 14 women had been raped.

Violence against women and girls

All parties to the conflict subjected women to sexual violence, including rape, and other forms of gender-based violence.

  • On 18 May, an Indigenous woman was raped by an army soldier at the side of a road in Putumayo Department. The army unit to which the soldier belonged was reportedly only 100m away at the time.
  • On 16 March, eight heavily-armed masked men wearing civilian clothes and thought to be paramilitaries, entered an Afro-descendent community in Tumaco, Nariño Department. They threatened and beat residents, raped two women and sexually abused a 16-year-old girl.

Very few of the perpetrators of such abuses were brought to justice. However, in a rare success, on 27 August sub-Lieutenant Raúl Muñoz Linares was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Jenni Torres, as well as the murder of her brothers, aged nine and six, and the rape of another girl, in Tame, Arauca Department, in October 2010.

A bill “to guarantee access to justice for victims of sexual violence, especially sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict” was before Congress at the end of the year. If approved, it will, among other things, amend the Criminal Code to make certain forms of conflict-related sexual violence, such as forced nudity, abortion and pregnancy, specific criminal offences.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict visited Colombia in May. During the visit she stated that more needed to be done to ensure access to justice for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.

US assistance

In 2012, the USA allocated some US$482 million in military and non-military assistance to Colombia, US$281 million of which was for the security forces. In September, around US$12 million in security assistance funds from 2011 was released after the US State Department determined that Colombia had made significant progress in improving human rights.

International scrutiny

The report on Colombia of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human rights (OHCHR), published in January, acknowledged that “[s]ignificant legislative and public policy initiatives were undertaken [and] human rights violations were condemned [by state authorities]”, but that “these efforts have yet to achieve the desired results at the local level”. The report also noted that a “significant number of human rights and international humanitarian law violations are still committed, primarily by illegal armed groups, but also allegedly by State agents” and that this was having “serious humanitarian consequences for civilians”. According to the OHCHR, impunity remained “a structural problem”.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Colombia in January, March, April, June, October and November.
  • Colombia: The Victims and Land Restitution Law – an Amnesty International analysis (AMR 23/018/2012)
  • Colombia: Hidden from justice – impunity for conflict-related sexual violence, a follow-up report (AMR 23/031/2012)