BOGOTA (Reuters) - At least 35,178 people have suffered sexual, gender and reproductive violence in Colombia's armed conflict, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal said on Wednesday as it opened an investigation.
Women, girls and people with diverse sexual orientations, identities and expressions of gender were the most affected, the JEP said.
"The court finds that acts of gender violence and prejudice occurred during the armed conflict when perpetrators abused the control afforded to them by weapons and the exercise of armed power to select victims and commit the crimes," Judge Lily Rueda said at a press conference.
Provisional analysis found right-wing paramilitary groups committed some 33% of such crimes, followed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and members of the security forces, the JEP said. In 30% of cases, the group which the perpetrator belonged to was not identified.
Almost 90% of the victims between 1957 and 2016 were women, while 35% were children or adolescents when the crimes happened, the tribunal said.
It will investigate gender-based violence against civilians committed by FARC members and security personnel, including from the army and police. It will also investigate gender-based violence which took place within the ranks of each group.
The JEP was established as part of a 2016 peace agreement between the state and the now demobilized FARC, which ended the rebel group's role in a conflict that has killed more than 450,000.
It was created to prosecute former FARC rebels and military leaders over allegations of war crimes and has the power to impose lighter sentences than the ordinary justice system.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by Grant McCool)