Colombia

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2014/181) issued on 13 March 2014.

 

For the period 2012-2013, the General Attorney’s Office reported on the investigation of 86 cases of sexual violence, involving 154 victims, perpetrated in the context of armed conflict. United Nations partners have reported that a range of violations and abuses were committed, including rape, gang rape, the recruitment of women, girls and boys by illegal armed groups for use as sexual slaves, forced pregnancy, forced abortion and forced prostitution. Other crimes reported in connection with sexual violence included kidnapping, threats of violence and assassinations. United Nations data on sexual and gender-based violence for 2013 indicate that women and girls of Afro-Colombian descent were disproportionately affected. In both 2012 and 2013, as many as 10 per cent of incidents reported by government sources related to sexual violence against men and boys.

 

The sexual exploitation of women and girls in areas under the influence of illegal armed groups or groups emerging after the demobilization of paramilitary organizations (under Law 975 of 2005, the “Justice and Peace Law”) remains a grave concern. In this context, incidents indicate that sexual violence is perpetrated as a strategy to assert territorial control, to intimidate women leaders and human rights defenders and to intimidate the civilian population as a method of social control. Some survivors report having been displaced and raped repeatedly. Survivors reporting incidents of sexual violence to the authorities and service providers also reported receiving subsequent threats against them and their families, some of which resulted in forced displacement. The continuing presence of survivors and perpetrators in the same community represents an ongoing security risk, creates acute psychological trauma owing to prolonged intimidation and hinders reporting and access to justice and services. These trends are consistent with the acknowledgement by the Colombian Constitutional Court (in its judgement 092 of 2008) that sexual violence is a habitual, extensive, systematic and invisible practice in the context of the Colombian armed conflict, perpetrated by all of the illegal armed groups and, in isolated cases, by individual agents of the national armed forces.

 

With regard to the need for adequate and timely legal, medical and psychological attention for survivors, a draft bill outlining measures to guarantee the right of access to justice for survivors of sexual violence, particularly as it relates to the armed conflict, is under consideration by Congress. The approval, in November 2013, of guidelines for a public policy aimed at risk prevention and at protecting and guaranteeing the rights of women who are victims of armed conflict and that make specific reference to the needs of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence is also a welcome development. Other positive developments include the elaboration by the Ministry of Defence of a protocol aimed at building the capacity of the public forces to prevent and respond to sexual violence, in particular with regard to the armed conflict. With regard to reparations, as at November 2013 the special administrative unit charged with providing support and reparation to victims had registered 3,525 survivors of sexual violence (2,902 of whom were female). To date, some 409 survivors have comprehensive reparation plans, including benefits for their families. A collective reparations process is also under way in consultation with five women’s organizations and a national programme for the protection of those in situations of extreme risk is being implemented.

 

Recommendation

I urge the Colombian authorities to ensure that legislative and policy developments, including the Colombian legal framework for peace, contribute to the fulfilment of survivors’ rights to truth, justice and reparation for the full range of violations associated with conflict-related sexual violence. Furthermore, I call upon the Government of Colombia to continue and extend its collaboration with the United Nations, including the Team of Experts.