WOMEN’S REGIONAL COURT in Bucaramanga – Preliminary Ethical Ruling




Justice, Territory and Peace


Bucaramanga, November 24th and 25th, 2012

Preliminary Ruling


The Women’s Regional Court was conceived as a “space for the recuperation of memory, for truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition” of different forms of violence against women in Santander and Magdalena Medio. The judges of the Women’s Regional Court who have heard the testimonies of the victims and the voices of the women who resist and persevere despite their tragic and adverse circumstances, and who are at the same time creating proposals for peace, justice and land, based on women’s perspectives, state the following:

We celebrate the strength of each of the women who dare speak of their sorrows and express their misfortunes and the harms that shackle them, as well as of the work that goes into the construction of memory and their resistance.

We believe that, as was established in the World Conference on Women held in Beijing, violence against women is a result of the power struggles established by a patriarchal culture and strengthened by economic models based on the accumulation of wealth.

We emphasize that there continue to be high levels of impunity in relation to violence against women within and outside the context of the armed conflict. The repeated occurrence of these events is in turn enabled by the State’s disregard of its duty to respond with due diligence.

We stress that in accordance with resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960 of the United Nations Security Council, these forms of violence against women must be highlighted within the context of the peace dialogues process.

We ascertain that the implementation of large-scale projects in the regions of Santander and Magdalena Medio in Colombia have had negative impacts on women, their families and their communities in relation to their ability to maintain healthy families and adequate economic and subsistence conditions.  In the case of the construction of the Hidrosogamoso project by ISAGEN, the decrease in the availability of fish is noticeable, thus affecting the food sovereignty of women and families.

We ascertain that the families who lived off artisanal small-scale mining, combining this activity with subsistence farming in the municipalities that are affected by gold extraction in Santurban, are forced to change their economic activity. The strategies used by corporations to control the land promote community divisions and displacement. The higher proportion of residents from other places is accompanied by the breakdown of social and family ties, as well as violence against women, drug addictions and prostitution.

We have confirmed the existence of discriminatory policies against women within oil and palm oil corporations in relation to issues such as access to employment, wages, and having a say in internal affairs. Furthermore, discrimination within unions was also observed.

We ascertain through the testimonies that women continue to be the target of systemic and premeditated attacks within the context of socio-political violence, which has been used for the purpose of domination and control.  In these cases, practices such as forced pregnancy and prostitution, sexual slavery, forced nudity, trafficking in persons, forced sterilization, sexual violence, forced displacement, extrajudicial executions, torture, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, public ridicule, and unjustified prosecutions have been persistently used to shape women’s behaviour and to undermine their role as socio-political subjects.

We ascertain that organizations that promote the rights of women and their organizing, such as Organización Femenina Popular, are increasingly targeted by systematic attacks. These attacks indicate patterns of aggression as political and gender-based persecution which are unacceptable by international law and constitute human rights crimes.

We denounce that such attacks on organizational processes are also attacks on the dignity of women as evidenced through physical, psychological and sexual violence. As the women who made their statements before this court declared: “the scars of the soul are evidenced in the interconnection – the scars on the body, the soul and the social fabric”.

We highlight the role of the women who made their statements about sexual violence, publicly sharing the forms in which this violence manifests itself, and thus increasing the visibility of the most significant ways in which their lives and their bodies are affected. Through this exercise on collective memory they make explicit their condition as political subjects and agents of change.

We declare that violence against women is the oldest and most widespread form of violence in human history and that it affects women regardless of age, class, ethnic or any other identity. It is affirmed through centuries of stereotyped understandings of what women are and do, resulting from a patriarchal culture sustained in men’s exercising of power over women, over their bodies and over their lives.

We note that these notions that devalue and negate our dignity as individuals and our rights as citizens are affirmed in all cultures through institutions, ideologies, laws, policies and the media. The possibility to deconstruct patriarchal culture implies a clear commitment from the State and from society to transform the formative processes in all their expressions as well as the discriminatory social practices that obliterate or weaken the autonomy of women.

We have confirmed through the testimonies offered that feminicides (murder of women because of their identity as women) are an extreme expression of violence against women and the ultimate consequence of the “historically unequal relationships of power between women and men.”

We ascertain that the State tolerates the murder of women and does not duly investigate crimes, nor does it hold the murderers accountable.

We point out that the acts here mentioned constitute serious violations of international standards in what relates to violence against women.


A. Sociopolitical violence.

1. To condemn the systemic practices developed within the context of the conflict (State Forces, paramilitary forces and guerrilla forces), which have attempted to subjugate, control, silence and immobilize women and their organizational expressions.

2. To condemn the Colombian State for not providing protection guarantees to human rights defenders and their organizational processes.

3. To demand of the Colombian State that there be a focused investigation into the human rights crime of persecution of Organización Femenina Popular – OFP, ensuring that attention is granted to the systematic and interconnected nature of the crimes. Should there not be an adequate and timely response, the State would be asked to transfer these events to the International Criminal Court for the corresponding investigations to take place.

4. To demand that society, the media and the various organizational processes of society include in their agendas and frameworks of reflection an ongoing analysis that would grant visibility to the violence against the organizational processes of women, as well as the impact of violence in the bodies and lives of women.

B. Sexual Violence

1. To condemn armed actors as “intellectual authors” (autores mediatos) of sexual violence crimes against women including: rape, sexual abuse, sexual slavery, forced abortion, forced sterilization, forced pregnancy, forced prostitution.

2.  To condemn the attackers for sexual violence against women.

3. To condemn the Colombian State for its responsibility with regards to the lack of due diligence and the resulting impunity in the cases of sexual violence against women both in the context of the armed conflict as well as outside of its realm.

4. To demand that the Colombian State grant neither de facto nor de jure amnesties for these crimes in the context of the peace process.

5. To demand that the judicial branch and the Public Prosecutor’s Office exercise due diligence, apply the regulations relating to prosecution and evidence indicated by the International Criminal Court for these cases, and assign an investigative unit that addresses sexual violence as a structural problem and not as isolated cases.

6. To demand that the State implement UNSCR1325 and its related resolutions in the country.

7. To demand that the Ministry of Health provide psychosocial support to victims and their families, without limiting this support to the filing of cases in the criminal justice system.

8. To demand that the State recognize the real magnitude of sexual violence in the country, its negative effects in the lives and bodies of women and that it work, from that perspective, on improving the design and implementation of its public policies and programs.

9. To demand that the Colombian State provide reparations in a holistic, appropriate and effective fashion and that it provide guarantees of “non-repetition” to women who are victims of sexual violence.

C. Socioeconomic Violence.

1. To condemn the Colombian State for omission and commission in its promotion of policies of dispossession in detriment of its duties to respect, protect, and guarantee the rights of women, as well as its allowing, enabling and leaving such violations in impunity.

2. To condemn the Colombian State for the violations of women’s rights in relation to the development of large-scale projects in resource extraction and the use of natural resources in the Santurban Wetlands, in palm oil cash crops, and at Hidrosogamoso.

3. To urge the Ministry of Labour to guarantee and monitor the labour conditions of women in Ecopetrol.

4. To urge the Colombian State to take effective measures through all its bodies to fully guarantee and protect women’s rights to allow their full social and economic realization.

5. To condemn ISAGEN, ECO-ORO, ECOPETROL, Palmas Bucarelli and Palmas Monterey as well as the other corporations involved in the violation of economic, social and environmental rights brought forth and acknowledged by the tribunal, due to their abuse of power.

D. Gender-Based Violence – Feminicides

1. To condemn the Colombian State for the cases of feminicide that have occurred in the country as a result of the lack of guarantees for the safety of women, the impunity in these cases and the absence of appropriate public policies to address this problem.

2. To condemn those responsible for the murders of women murdered due to their gender.

3. To call on the Congress of Colombia to approve the law that typifies feminicide as a crime in and of itself and to reform the laws that may need to be reformed.

4. To demand that the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar – ICBF) not grant the custody of children to the murderers of women and that it fulfill its responsibility in the case of children of murdered women, particularly in the case of children who have additional protections due to their condition (disability, low income, other).

5. To demand that the judicial branch as well as the Public Prosecutor’s Office exercise due diligence and apply international standards in relation to gender-based forms of violence.

6. To demand that the media, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, professionals working in law-related fields and the police do not regard the murder of women as “passion” cases.

E. Symbolic and Cultural Violence.

1. To demand that the State create a commission of wise women who would generate a proposal to reshape the current institutional framework, in particular in the areas of education and culture, as part of its fulfillment of international commitments and obligations to CEDAW and Belem do Parà.

2. To demand that society, the media and organizational expressions within civil society deconstruct patriarchal culture, transforming formative processes in all their expressions and the discriminatory social practices that obliterate or weaken women’s autonomy.

Lastly, we encourage women and their organizations, as well as society as a whole, to unite efforts to condemn and increase the visibility of the current situation of inequality, loss of sovereignty and land, and of violations of women’s rights.










Bucaramanga, 26 de noviembre de 2012


Filed in: Gender Justice/Women of Courage


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