A milestone related to sexual violence in the armed conflict

News and Press Release
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David Garcia (29.04.2014)

Forced displacement and sexual violence in the context of armed conflicts are international crimes often disproportionably and adversely affecting boys and girls and women. The level of impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of these crimes in Colombia also means that the victim’s rights to truth, justice and reparation are being violated.

In view of make the situation of survivors of sexual violence visible, combating impunity and contribute for the construction of peace in Colombia, NRC -through it´s ICLA program- established a strategic relationship with El Tiempo, the Ombudsman’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General of Colombian to organize the International Seminar: Justice, Truth and Reparation for women victims of sexual violence committed in the context of the armed conflict – contributions for the construction of peace in Colombia. The seminar was funded and supported by Canada (GPSF) and Norwegian MFA and was attended by over 250 people.

The seminar was inaugurated by Roberto Pombo, Director of El Tiempo; Paula Gaviria, Director of the Victims Unit; Lars Vaagen, Ambassador of Norway; Steve Cote, Charge d’Affaires embassy of Canada; Carmen Moreno, executive secretary CIM-OAS and Christian Visnes, NRC Country Director; who underlined the commitment of NRC on the subject, the magnitude of the problem in Colombia and concluded that the risk for girls and women continues in the context of the armed conflict in Colombia.

While the representative from the Attorney reiterated the commitment of the Attorney General’s Office pursue penalization and criminalization of act of crimes of sexual violence and challenges in this work; women's organizations and victims of sexual violence reported the multiple barriers to achieve justice and suggested, in a proactive way, that all these lessons learned should be considered to improve access to justice and reparation for victims to restore confidence in the state institutions.

The Ambassador of Norway in Colombia and the representative of the Canadian Embassy, stressed in their opening speeches the importance of institutional strengthening of judicial institutions and support to rule of law in order for the victims of the armed conflict in Colombia to be able exercise their rights to justice, truth and reparation. Mrs Carmen Moreno, executive secretary CIM-OAS, underlined in her intervention the importance of fighting almost total impunity for such acts in Colombia, the importance of highlighting the situation of the victims and to supports victims rights to access to justice, also in view preventing such acts in the future as a way to achieve lasting peace.

Maria Emma Wills, coordinator of the Center of Historical Memory, told how through research and field work they have done, they have been noted how "paramilitaries tended to commit rapes, and ferocious cruelty." She added that an important step is to investigate how the men were trained in war and the impact of these crimes both individually and collectively way.

Also participated in the seminar Judith Torrea, Spanish journalist based in Mexico and an expert on the subject of femicide in Ciudad Juarez (Mexico); Maria Urrutia, a survivor of sexual violence, Afromupaz Director; Elisabeth Wood, an expert on sexual violence in armed conflicts and Professor of Political Science at Yale University; Daniel Millares, manager of Justice and Peace of the MAPP-OEA and Amrita Kapur, an expert on sexual violence, Gender and Justice, ICTJ New York, among others.

Memories of the event will be utilized to continue advocating in the public agenda and the current peace negotiations.

Other publications related with the Seminar:

Testimonios de víctimas de la violencia son escuchados en el foro 'Diálogos en Blanco -Púrpura'

Violencia sexual en el conflicto, un delito que sigue invisible

Impunidad por violencia sexual en medio del conflicto llega al 98 %