In 2014, an average of two women were raped every three days in the course of the armed conflict in Colombia. Yet to date there have been very few convictions for sexual violence – and no convictions at all in cases in which the perpetrator was a member of the armed forces.
By failing to act, the Colombian state is denying women the protection against sexualized crimes and access to justice that it is obliged to guarantee under national and international law. In response, ECCHR together with the Colombian organizations Sisma Mujer and Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR), has submitted a criminal complaint (communication) against Colombia to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The organizations are calling on the court’s prosecution authorities to open investigations against suspects in Colombia.
In compiling the communication, ECCHR, Sisma and CCAJAR examined 36 representative cases of sexual violence that occurred between 2002 and 2011. Their conclusion: sexual assaults carried out in the course of the armed conflict are not isolated incidents but instead form part of the military strategy and are crimes against humanity. The military enjoy almost total impunity.
The organizations are calling on the ICC prosecution authorities to comply with the standards set out by the court itself; in a 2014 policy paper the court declared it would be adopting a gender perspective and gender analysis in all levels of its work. The three human rights organizations believe that investigations by the ICC could strengthen the peace process in Colombia.