Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
It was in March 25, 2009 when members of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) formally launched CAT Alert Campaign.
CAT Alert! as they coined it, aims to popularize PAHRA’s freedom from torture advocacy through the utilization of the internet particularly for the promotion and information dissemination and sharing of the right to be free from torture through blogging and social networking.
CAT Alert is in its third year of advocacy blogging. It suggests a way of alerting the public and the Committee Against Torture (CAT) of the United Nations (UN) or UNCAT in any situation or violation of torture. It stands for Cannot Allow Torture and it can be found in http://cannotallowtorture.blogspot.com.
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), a member of PAHRA is its moderator and admin.
PAHRA is a national alliance of non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) advocating for the promotion and defense of human rights.
Below is PAHRA’s statement released in March 25, 2009 during the launching of CAT Alert!
Click image for gmanews.tv’s coverage of CAT Alert press launch
Let us assert our common humanity… We Cannot Allow Torture in any way
Since time immemorial, torture has been humanity’s option for clinging to power and in suppressing truth. This happened to St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, during his stoning to death.
This was humanity’s betrayal of Christ which ended up in the nailing on the cross. Indeed, He was a torture victim. Being sold for thirty pieces of silver; tried in public to denounce the supremacy of God over Ceasar; scourged at the pillar to test the vulnerability of the Son of God; crowned with thorns to disgrace the very sanctity of His Father.
Torture was a method perpetrated with presumed regularity within the very procedures in the implementation of the law of man. Today, this is still happening. This is happening to any Juan, Pedro, and Maria in their quest to protect integrity and dignity as individuals or communities in the Philippines.
Based on internationally recognized human rights norms, “torture is any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person.” Such action is called torture when done during the process of investigation or with the consent of public official or any person acting in an official capacity on any of the three grounds:
• Done to extract information or confession on the victim or a third person;
• A form of punishment for an act committed or suspected to have been committed;
• A way of intimidation or coercion based on discrimination.
Victims of human rights violations, particularly those who are ‘salvaged’ or extra-judicially killed bore marks of tortures. Families of “desaparecidos” bear the anguish and pain in search of their loved ones amid constant prodding of the powers-that-be to accept accusations alleging victims as communists, terrorists, and enemies of the State.
Poor patients particularly indigenous peoples are subjected to hospital detention for being unable to pay bills on time. Or worse, denied access to health services for being poor.
Standard operating procedures during arrest are coupled with physical assault to extract confession. Detention facilities are pictures of degrading and inhuman condition. These are the images of torture, degrading and inhuman conditions of our times.
In this time of Lent, we in the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), a coalition of human rights organizations and institutions in the Philippines, call for REPENTANCE of sins and the abrogation of torture as a firm resolve.
Torture wounds not only the flesh but the personhood of individuals and families. It strikes at the very foundation of our morality and our dream of a just society. It carries a dehumanizing effect and unrelenting attack on our dignity.
We call for the immediate passage of the ANTI-TORTURE (note: ATL was passed in November 2009) and ANTI-ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE bills in Congress. We call on the Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). These are necessary and effective ways of preventing further human rights violations – avenues by which justice may be served; fear and impunity may be diminished. These are necessary measures in protecting and celebrating human life, rights and dignity.
Let us assert our common humanity… we Cannot Allow Torture in any way
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