Colombian prosecutors investigate more than 1,100 sexual assaults against conflict victims
After years of criticism for ignoring a campaign of sexual terror against women and children, Colombian prosecutors say they are investigating more than 1,000 paramilitary assaults.
The investigation includes the horrifying assaults perpetrated by a former paramilitary leader who fathered some 19 children with girls who were under legal age. Hernán Giraldo Serna is said to have fathered 24 children with girls under age 14 including one child conceived with a victim under 12 years.
Colombian national newspaper El Tiempo reported that Giraldo had assaulted more than 50 girls while he was leader of the Resistencia Tayrona de las Autodefensas once active in Colombia´s Caribbean coastal regions.
Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have documented how the paramilitaries have increasingly turned to sexual violence to terrorize those among Colombians some five million internal refugees who attempt to return to lost lands.
“Over the last few years there has been a marked increase in threats against such women leaders, especially those working with forcibly displaced communities, campaigning for land restitution, or representing survivors of conflict-related sexual violence,” Amnesty said in its 2012 report Colombia: Hidden From Justice Impunity For Conflict Related Sexual Violence, a Follow-up Report.
It found “an increasing number of women human rights activists working to denounce and fight abuses have themselves been targets of threats and attacks.”
And an independent investigation by national news magazine La Semana found impunity in sexual assaults against, women, children and gay men found that less than two per cent of Colombian sexual assaults resulted in convictions.
It found that five years after the Colombian Supreme Court ordered the government to get serious about preventing sexual assault and prosecute sex crimes little improvement had been made.
“The sexual violence continues, probably the crime with the most unpunished crime in the Colombian armed conflict,” the magazine concluded in an article last month.
For more information please read this English-language report with a link to Amnesty International´s report: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/colombian-authorities-fail-stop-or-punish-sexual-violence-against-women-2012-10-04
And in Spanish, please read: http://www.eltiempo.com/justicia/fiscalia-investiga-1158-casos-de-abuso-sexual-cometidos-por-los-paras_13158099-4