Colombia: Army Officer Sentenced in Landmark Rape, Murder Case
Monday, September 10, 2012 2:40 PM

Colombia’s long-standing problem of impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence was challenged recently, as an army officer was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the rape and murder of a 14 year-old girl. 

Groups on all sides of Colombia’s armed conflict have long been accused of using sexual violence as a weapon of war. Through sexual violence, the armed groups instill fear in local communities and impose military control over residents.  While women and girls from indigenous communities are at a greater risk of sexual violence, women and girls displaced from their homes by fighting are also targets.  In 2008, Colombia’s constitutional court declared the use of sexual violence in the country’s armed conflict a “habitual, extensive, systematic and invisible practice.” 

Despite the acknowledgement of this widespread problem, the Colombia attorney general’s office has investigated and sought convictions in only a small percentage of cases.  Thus, the recent conviction was a considerable victory.  Colombia’s researcher for Amnesty International, Marcelo Pollack, said that the ruling “is a testament to the perseverance of the victims’ families and their lawyers. It is rare that perpetrators of human rights abuses are ever brought to justice in Colombia, and more so if they are members of the security forces and if the crime is one of sexual violence.”

Human rights groups hope that the result of this high-profile case will lead to stronger efforts on the part of law enforcement to combat the use of sexual violence in Colombia’s conflict.

 Compiled from: Moloney, Anastasia, Colombian Army Officer Convicted In Landmark Rape, Murder Case,” Alertnet (Aug. 30, 2012).