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Comunicados MESECVI

Colombia: Committee of Experts of the MESECVI Issues its View regarding the Situation of Victims of Sexual Violence

The Committee of Experts of the Mechanism to Follow Up on Implementation of the Convention de Belém do Pará (MESECVI), in a letter to the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Colombia, Judge María Victoria Calle Correa, indicated its concern regarding the guarantee of access to justice to women victims of sexual violence, owing to the amendment introduced by Article 23 of Law 1719 to guarantee access to justice by victims of sexual violence, of June 18, 2014, which makes binding the obligation to implement the Protocol and Model for Integral Health Care for Victims of Sexual Violence.

The Committee indicated its positive view of the admission of the action for a declaration that this Law is unconstitutional and took the opportunity to note that in the Second Hemispheric Report (2014), the group of Experts referred specifically to the progress made by Colombia in adopting this Protocol, which contains guidelines for the integral and specialized care of women victims of sexual violence.

The Committee also noted that Article 1 of the Protocol establishes that its implementation is mandatory, so that Law 1719 could imply a reversal in women’s rights and jeopardize access to health by victims of sexual violence. Accordingly, the Committee invited the Court to reinstate the binding obligation to implement the Protocol.

In 2012, in the Second Hemispheric Report, the Committee urged the States to Ensure women’s access to justice by guaranteeing, as a minimum, the availability of specialized personnel to serve victims and handle their cases throughout the procedural stages; areas that offer privacy within police stations, courts and health centers.” Subsequently, in the Declaration on Violence against Women, Girls and Adolescents and their Sexual and Reproductive Rights (2014), the Committee recommended “Providing comprehensive care to victims of sexual violence, including medical and psychological care, counseling, and legal and social assistance that addresses their issues and provides follow-up subsequent to the crisis.”

The Committee of Experts is the technical organ of the MESECVI and has responsibility analyzing and evaluating the process of implementing the Convention de Belém do Pará. It is composed of independent Experts designated by each State Party from among its nationals, who serve in their personal capacity.