[Statement] Human rights defenders in Mindanao condemn the barbaric act committed against three children in Zamboanga City – MATA

Photo by Medical Action Group (MAG)

We, the participants of the Capacity-Building Seminar on United Nations Committee Against Torture’s (UNCAT) Concluding Observations and Recommendations held in Jardin de la Viña Hotel, Zamboanga City from April 5-7, 2011 strongly condemn the barbaric act committed against the three children found dead in an irrigation at Sitio Gapuh, Barangay Talabaan, Zamboanga City by still unknown assailants.  The participants, in the interest of advocating “No Torture” and other Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment, therefore established the “Mindanao Anti-Torture Alliance,” more commonly known as MATA.

Even as these children were alleged to have been “Children in Conflict with the Law” (CICL), the act does not justify in any way the arbitrary curtailment of their lives. The fact that their bodies sustained multiple stab wounds, hogtied and faces wrapped in adhesive packaging tapes indicate that they were tortured before being killed.  Torture and any arbitrary violation of human rights have no place in a civilized society like us.  Albeit, such conditions especially of children situated in similar situations could have been a strong signal for a needed protection mechanism for children in our locality and society.

Let us be reminded that the Philippines is a State party to the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC) and the Convention Against Torture and other Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).  In recognition of these international obligations, domestic legislations have been enacted by Congress for the best interest of the child and to eradicate torture.  A child from any angle you view it is a child in need of care, love and protection from any harm and from difficult situations of vulnerability.  Children are the hope of our nation.  What future could we then expect if summary execution, torture and violations even of children’s rights are left unattended.

We are therefore calling on all relevant agencies of the government: the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Local Government Unit of Zamboanga to investigate the case and put the perpetrators in the bar of justice;

Ensure the implementation of laws for the welfare and protection of children especially in vulnerable situations;

Implement in full the spirit and letter of Anti- Torture Act 2009;

Come up with concrete programs towards the promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights for all.

Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG)
Telefax: 433-1594 / Mobile: 0915-443-3508
Website: http://www.magph.org

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