MAG continues to provide a holistic rehabilitative service, which includes but not limited to medical and psychosocial services, to documented torture survivors particularly political detainees and prisoners in the country. This is concurrent to regular jail visitation of MAG staff. The beneficiaries also include immediate relatives of torture victims.
MAG pioneers its work on medical documentation as part of “quick response team” or QRT by documenting alleged cases of torture and providing necessary health and medical services to victims of arbitrary arrest and detention. MAG has been assisting victim/survivor of human rights violations by providing medical records and documentation to the court for prosecution of alleged perpetrators and measures to protect the victim/survivor. It is a well-known fact that persons deprived of their liberty are subjected to torture before they were brought to a judicial authority. Hence the need of necessary protection to the arrested person during this stage is considered to be crucial to prevent torture. Indeed, MAG has developed its credibility from this line of work and formed a vast and reliable network of support groups, organizations, institutions and individuals to provide support to its programs and services.
On victims’ medical and psychological aspects, the interventions are proved to be effective. The formation of support group system is crucial in establishing network regarding health and social welfare needs of victims as well as their relatives. The support group composed of victims’ relatives, friends and colleagues as well as groups of human rights defenders creates a sense of belonging, provides emotional support, initiates capabilities for self-management when it comes to decision-making in facing life after detention and trial, and makes it possible to vindicate the victims.
Through the combination of documentation, welfare assistance, rehabilitation, networking and lobby work, MAG has been able to influence a number of policies for the protection and defense of human rights in the country and access to justice in particular the campaign for the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 9745) and popularization of the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment otherwise known as the Istanbul Protocol in medical documentation of cases of torture.
The documentation work of MAG has resulted in some extent “fine-tuning” of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Act i.e. Section 12, Right to Physical, Medical and Psychological Examination by facilitating a dialogue with concerned government agencies about documented cases where persons deprived of their liberty were not afforded prompt and regular access to a lawyer and an independent doctor from the outset of their detention, and victims’ right to request a second medical opinion by a doctor of his/her choice were violated.
MAG in 2009 facilitated the submission of the Joint Civil Society Report on the implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to the UN Committee Against Torture 42nd session, 27 April to 15 May 2009. Followed by Joint Civil Society Follow-up Report on the Progress of the Implementation by the Philippines of the United Nations Committee Against Torture Concluding Observations last August 2010.
MAG is currently disseminating information of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) Concluding Observations and Recommendations to the Philippine government and also involve in education campaign on popularization of the Anti-Torture Act.
Every year, MAG also conducts social and recreational activities for victims of torture and their relatives as part of their rehabilitation. On the commemoration of the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture and during Christmas season dubbed as “Paskuhan sa Kampo” (Christmas in Jail) are few of these activities where we mobilizes government agencies, civil society organizations, friends, concerned individuals and specialists.
- [In the news] Human rights advocates hold seminar with NGOs on new anti-torture law- www.zamboangatoday.ph (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [Statement] Human rights defenders in Mindanao condemn the barbaric act committed against three children in Zamboanga City – MATA (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [Off the shelf] Anti-Torture Act of 2009 Digest by Balay Rehabilitation Center (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [From the web] PHILIPPINES: Torture victims speaks out – “I still suffer from trauma after two decades” Interview 2 (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [Event] Join us in a Worldwide prayer for all victims of torture on June 25 – www.tfdp.net (hronlineph.wordpress.com)