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Seeking Justice for Persecution: Race and Gender in Colombia's Conflict

On October 21, 2020, MADRE co-hosted a panel event on accountability for racial and gender-based persecution committed against Afro-descendant communities during Colombia's conflict. Featuring panelists from Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN - Black Communities' Process), the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic of the City University of New York School of Law, and the Center for Socio-Legal Research (CIJUS) at the Universidad de Los Andes School of Law, the event explored the opportunity to set historical precedent under international law, through accountability for racial and gender-based persecution in Colombia’s transitional justice system.

During Colombia’s conflict, gender-based violence was routinely used as punishment against those who deviated from social norms. Black and Indigenous women and girls were punished with rape, torture and murder by armed actors for their attire and their occupations. LGBTIQ, non-binary and gender non-conforming persons were subjected to “corrective rape” and “social cleansing." These crimes are all forms of gender and racial persecution.

While gender persecution is an "old" crime, no tribunal has ever litigated a successful case. The transitional justice system created under Colombia's 2016 Peace Accord presents an important opportunity to ensure accountability for these crimes. 

During the event, Charo Mina Rojas from PCN shared how Afro-descendant communities have experienced racial and gender-based persecution in Colombia, and what PCN has been doing to document and raise visibility of gender crimes committed against Afro-descendant women. Rene Fernando Urueña from CIJUS provided information on the operation of Colombia's transitional justice system, and opportunities for bringing racial and gender-based persecution to the JEP. Lisa Davis from CUNY discussed the significance of addressing gender-based persecution under international law, and the international community's failure to adequately address it.

Transcript available upon request. Please email advocacy@madre.org for more information.

November 11, 2020  / Latin America and Carribean / Colombia