Conflict dynamics, which were exacerbated by challenges arising from the pandemic, correlated with new trends with respect to sexual violence. Illegal armed groups took advantage of mobility restrictions to expand their social and territorial control. The fragmentation of armed actors, transiting between regions, made it more difficult for survivors to identify perpetrators. In the regions of Antioquia, Cauca, Chocó, Nariño and Norte de Santander, there were clashes between armed actors and criminal groups over control of territory and illegal economies, which the Ombudsperson’s early warning system linked with increased risks of conflict-related sexual violence. The Office of the Ombudsperson issued the highest number of early warnings with respect to Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, ELN and dissident groups of FARC-EP. However, it is reported that all armed actors committed sexual violence as part of the social control strategies employed against women and individuals with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. In 2020, the United Nations also reported killings of women human rights defenders, including the murder of five women, among them a former FARC-EP combatant undergoing reintegration.
The National Victims’ Unit implemented strategies focused on reparations and psychosocial rehabilitation for survivors of sexual violence. The Ministry of Health trained 22,516 health-care professionals in accordance with the protocol for comprehensive health care for victims of sexual violence. The Agency for Reintegration and Normalization and the FARC-EP gender commission continued to work with former female combatants to prevent sexual and gender-based violence in the context of reintegration. The President of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, issued guidelines on strengthening gender equality in the security forces, with the aim of improving their overall effectiveness and responsiveness with respect to sexual and gender-based violence. In October, my Special Representative participated in a virtual visit to Colombia led by the Deputy Secretary-General, which was aimed at supporting national efforts to accelerate the implementation of the gender-related provisions of the peace agreement and to foster inclusive conflict recovery. Of the 132 cases of conflict-related sexual violence referred to the Office of the Attorney General, 6 have proceeded to trial, 4 are under investigation and 1 remains at the preliminary investigation phase, and the remaining 121 are undergoing initial inquiry. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace has integrated strategies for investigating conflict- related sexual violence into four of its seven ongoing emblematic cases. In its first indictment concerning hostage-taking and other severe acts of deprivation of liberty committed by FARC-EP, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace included charges against eight of the former group leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity, recognizing that sexual violence in the context of captivity generally went unpunished. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission continued to receive reports of conflict-related sexual violence and interviewed 5,440 women on the impact of the conflict on civilians, including the use of sexual violence.