There is no time to lose to ensure victims’ right to reparation in Colombia
Date and time
Bogota, 25 May 2022 – Today, the Global Survivors Fund, the Association of Afro-descendant Women of Northern Cauca (ASOM) and Caribe Afirmativo present the findings of their Study on the Situation and the Opportunities for the Right to Reparation for Victims and Survivors of Sexual and Reproductive Violence in the Context of Armed Conflict in Colombia. The publication is released on the National Day for the Dignification of Victims of Sexual Violence in the context of the armed conflict in Colombia, and is launched at Javeriana University, Bogota, at 5PM.
In Colombia, sexual and reproductive violence has been perpetrated for over six decades against the civilian population, women and men combatants and ex-combatants, young adults, boys and girls, and members of the LGBTIQ+ community. More than 9 million people are registered at the National Registry of Victims as victims of the armed conflict out of which approximately 35,000 are registered as victims of crimes that include sexual violence. However, many more have yet to claim their rights and speak out about what happened to them.
As explained by a survivor: “In the short or medium term we need medical care and want to continue with our academic aspirations. We also need to build a well-rounded life project. This would allow us to reclaim our dignity as women, as persons, as peoples, as families.”
Another survivor echoed that “it is difficult to understand that a victim of sexual violence arrives and needs not only a general practitioner, but also a urologist, a gynaecologist. We need a psychologist, and a series of other things. They need to understand that what we want is no longer a piecemeal but a comprehensive approach.”
The Study has also shown that survivors’ needs are many, and that accessing reparations remains very difficult. It highlights how victims of conflict-related sexual and reproductive violence are also affected by social exclusion, precarity and discrimination. It also underscores how the fragmented delivery of various forms of reparation, including those provided under Law 1448/2011, can revictimize and produce new forms of institutional violence. Our findings have also shown that there are still many gaps to fill. For example, to adequately respond to the situation of people born of rape or to take into account sexual violence against boys and men and LGBTIQ+ people, as well as reproductive violence against women and girls.
“While Colombia has a very ambitious reparation policy, many challenges remain in place to fulfil victims’ rights to full reparation. The Study identifies opportunities including those offered by the 2016 Colombian Final Peace Agreement, such as the opening of a macro-case or the conditionality regime, that need to be seized to advance the fulfilment of this right” says Clara Sandoval, Director of Programmes at GSF.
The Study has established that reparations vary greatly from one location to another, with victims having unequal access to resources and information and accessing them at different times according to their place of residence.
It also reveals that no real progress has taken place on the provision of collective reparation measures under Law 1448/2011, including for survivors of conflict related sexual and reproductive violence in Colombia.
The report is the first comprehensive Study to take place on reparations from a survivor’s perspective in Colombia, shedding light on survivors’ needs and making concrete recommendations to various national and international actors.
Amongst the major recommendations, the Study calls upon the Victims Unit to simplify their procedures and to better support victims through the reparations process. It also requests the Government of Colombia to ensure the effective implementation of the 2016 peace agreement and to better resource the institutions created by it. It also calls on the Ministry of Health to provide physical and mental rehabilitation for all survivors as ordered by Law 1719/2014 and Law 1448/2011. The Study also calls the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to open a macro-case on sexual, reproductive and other forms of violence linked to gender identity and sexual orientation and to promote the investigation, prosecution and punishment for all crimes of conflict-related sexual violence under its jurisdiction.
This Study is a unique piece of work which has put the survivors at the center of its research. A total of 72 victims from different regions, including Antioquia, norte del Cauca, Bolívar, Arauca, Valle del Cauca, Casanare, Caldas y Cundinamarca were brought together to discuss their perceptions, needs and expectations in terms of reparations. Participants included women, men, and people with diverse sexual orientations, gender expressions and identities from different socioeconomic contexts, including Afro-descendants, indigenous people and peasants.
This Study constitutes a key contribution in the current context in which transitional justice mechanisms in Colombia, victims and other actors are dealing with the place that sexual and reproductive violence should have in such processes, to contribute to justice, to the recognition of the structural causes of these forms of violence, and therefore, to the reparation of the victims.
The Global Survivors Fund carried out the Study over the past 18 months. The Study aims to better understand what survivors face in their battle for recognition and for reparations. It is unique, because it focuses on survivors needs, what they have experienced, what they think about their experience, and what they expect. It also provides a very comprehensive account of the status of reparations in the country, and of the many opportunities open in Colombia to fulfil this right. The work has been jointly carried out with the Association of Afro-descendant Women of Northern Cauca, Caribe Afirmativo and the Network of Women Victims and Professionals.
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