Colombia ordered to protect raped and tortured journalist

Bogota (AFP) –


The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Wednesday ordered Colombia to immediately protect a journalist who has accused the state of complicity in her kidnapping, rape and torture two decades ago.

"This court considers there to be ... an extremely serious and urgent situation, with the view to suffering irreparable damage, to Jineth Bedoya Lima and (her mother) Luz Nelly Lima," said the court's judges.

The court -- an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) based in Costa Rica -- is due to rule on Colombia's responsibility for the violence inflicted on World Press Freedom award-winning Bedoya, in 2000.

Now 47, Bedoya suffered a 16-hour ordeal after she was seized by right-wing paramilitaries from outside the La Modelo prison in Colombia's capital Bogota, where she was investigating an arms trafficking network.

She claims the state, including an "influential" police chief, was complicit in her abduction.

Bedoya says she has since suffered two decades of "persecution, intimidation and constant threats."

On Tuesday, the state apologized to Bedoya for failing to properly investigate those threats or a 1999 attack on her and her mother.

However, Camilo Gomez, the director of Colombia's National Agency for Legal Defense of the State, said the evidence was not "sufficient to demonstrate the participation of public agents" in the assault on Bedoya.

On Wednesday, the judges said the "adoption of provisional measures does not imply a decision on the foundation of the controversy ... nor does it conclude state responsibility" for the accusations made by Bedoya.

The two parties have until April 23 to present their final written arguments.

The court's decisions are definitive and unappealable.