In September 2001, Ms X was sexually assaulted and raped by three members of the Colombian Army after Ms X and a male friend had been taken onto military grounds. There, servicemen had forced Ms X and her male friend to have sex and subsequently had sexually assaulted Ms X. Ms X reported the attack to the Human Rights Unit of the Fourth Brigade and to the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia. The petitioners claimed that, following the complaint, the Fourth Brigade undertook a disciplinary investigation which found that there was no conclusive evidence to implicate military personnel. After Ms X underwent scientific tests, one of the attackers (who she had also seen during the attack) admitted to his participation and was subsequently prosecuted and convicted. This attacker also confessed he had not acted alone.
The petitioners claimed that the Office of the Attorney General had shown no intention of charging the remaining two servicemen; that insufficient investigations were carried out and instead the Office of the Attorney General undertook a preliminary investigation without identifying any possible responsible individuals; and that the disciplinary investigation was also improperly conducted by the military and that it should have been done by the Office of the Prosecutor General of Colombia. The petitioners alleged that these constituted violations of a range of rights protected under the American Convention on Human Rights and the American Declaration, including the rights to humane treatment, liberty, fair trial, effective remedy.
In 2007, the petitioners and State of Colombia entered into a Friendly Settlement Agreement pursuant to the provisions of Articles 48.1 and 49 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The terms of the Friendly Settlement Agreement included the following:
• Reparation for moral and material damages and damages to life for Ms X and her family, including funding education programmes, compensation and counselling;
• Requirements for the State to adopt education and other measures to prevent such attacks happening again; and
• A review by the Office of the Attorney General into the closing of the investigation with a view to reopening it and seeking steps to find justice for Ms X and her family.
Following the signing of the agreement, the State reopened the case with the aim of identifying the remaining two servicemen, undertook various measures designed to prevent such crimes and provide education programs for its servicemembers, and made various reparations to Ms X and her family.
In reviewing and approving the proposed Friendly Settlement Agreement, the Commission highlighted the importance of promoting the rights of women in order to guarantee the full and effective exercise and enjoyment of their fundamental rights, especially the rights to equality, non-discrimination and to live free of violence. It also emphasized the link between access to appropriate legal protection for women victims of violence and the elimination of violence and discrimination that perpetuate it and that it was cognizant of the need for States to adopt criminal, civil and administrative measures to guarantee that crimes sexual violence are prosecuted and do not go unpunished. Notably, during the process, there were also allegations of death threats against Ms X for having reported the attack. As a result, the Commission requested the State implement precautionary measures to guarantee her life and personal integrity.