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In this South American country, life imprisonment for rapists and murderers of minors came into effect on July 6, 2021. However, it does not apply retroactively.
On Sunday, the Colombian Prosecutor's Office sentenced six soldiers to 16 years in prison for raping a 12-year-old girl from the Embera-Chami Indigenous community. Another soldier was sentenced to eight years in prison as an accessory to this crime, which took place in the Risalda department.
Soldiers Juan Morales, Yair Gonzales, Juan Guaidia, Jose Holguin, Oscar Gil, Deyson Isaza, and Luis Mangareth, who belonged to the Colombian Army’s San Mateo Battle Artillery Battalion, kidnapped and raped the Indigenous girl on June 21, 2020. Since that date, they remain in prison.
Initially, after conducting 160 judicial investigations, the Prosecutor's Office requested that the soldiers be dismissed from their institution. However, they received the maximum penalty for rape cases after the governor of the Gito Do Kabu reserve, Juan Queragama, demanded justice.
"The facts disappointed the trust that our community had placed in the Army members as State representatives," Queragama stated, adding that the kidnapping crime was not included in the sentence.
When the community comes together to mourn the lives of Indigenous women and children and the harm caused by institutional violence. pic.twitter.com/Zm5y3OY87F
In September 2019, another group of soldiers also raped a 15-year-old girl from the Nukak Maku Indigenous community in the Guaviare department. So far, there is still no conviction in this investigation.
Given that President Ivan Duque has not promoted forceful actions to prevent gender-related violence, cases of abuse against adolescents and children are becoming more and more frequent. Over 55 girls and teenagers are raped on average per day, and one is killed every three days.
“We must carry out prevention exercises that help our society understand that we are all called to protect women and girls", the Colombian Women’s League for Peace and Freedom (LIMPAL) Director Diana Salcedo stated.