Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal said Wednesday that at least 35,178 people have suffered sexual, gender and reproductive violence during Colombia’s armed conflict. The JEP was created under the 2016 Peace Accord, between the state and the now demobilized FARC, as the justice component of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition.
Pramila Patten, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict (SRSG-SVC), commended the JEP for opening a dedicated case on sexual and gender-based violence, reproductive violence and other gender-based crimes on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity committed in the context of the armed conflict. In a press release, Patten said, “The formal opening of case 11 marks a turning point for the victims of conflict-related sexual violence of the Colombian armed conflict and women-led organizations who for decades have tirelessly and courageously advocated for justice, truth, recognition and reparations.”
The case will focus on three factors: (1) violence perpetrated by FARC-EP members against civilians; (2) violence committed by members of the State security forces against civilians; and (3) violence committed within the ranks of both the FARC-EP and the state security forces.
According to Human Rights Watch, gender-based violence is widespread in Colombia. Women are often restricted from accessing medical services due to a lack of training and poor implementation of treatment protocols that impede timely access and create obstacles for women and girls seeking post-violence care and justice. Alarmingly, perpetrators of violent, gender-based crimes are rarely held accountable. In a press release, Judge Lily Rueda commented on the opening of case 11 of the JEP and said, “The court finds that acts of gender violence and prejudice occurred during the armed conflict when perpetrators abused the control afforded to them by weapons and the exercise of armed power to select victims and commit the crimes.”
The focus of this measure is on restorative justice for people who have suffered sexual, gender and reproductive violence during Colombia’s armed conflict.