[From the web/Urgent Alert] UPDATE (Philippines): Tortured boy temporarily released to his parent’s custody

UPDATE (Philippines): Tortured boy temporarily released to his parent’s custody

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that Asraf Jamiri Musa, a 17-year-old Education student, who was tortured inside a military camp and charged with illegal possession of explosives after evidence was planted on him, has been temporarily released from detention to the custody of his parents.

UPDATED INFORMATION:

In our appeal on September 7 (AHRC-FUA-015-2011), we raised concerns as to the continued detention of Asraf Jamiri Musa together with adults in the Provincial jail in Isabela City, Basilan after he was illegally arrested on June 23, 2011. Detaining minors together with adults is illegal under section 46 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (R.A. 9344).

While the AHRC appreciates Asraf Jamiri’s release to the custody of his parents following the granting of the petition for Recognizance by his family, we are still concerned about his prosecution over fabricated charges. When he was interviewed by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Asraf gave details of the torture he endured and how the evidence was planted on him:

Details of torture and planting of evidence

Asraf was forced to admit membership of Abu Sayyaf, a group involved in kidnap-for-ransom. His wrists were cuffed behind his back and he was blindfolded with a handkerchief; his ankles were bound with rope and his head wrapped with cellophane. He was then repeatedly punched in the stomach and left side of his body. On three occasions he was submerged in a water-filled drum. The soldiers repeatedly threatened to kill him if he did not admit his membership with the group.

While blindfolded the soldiers made him take hold of a hard object; at the time he had no idea of which it might be. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of pictures being taken while he was holding it. He was then taken to the police station and to the prosecutor’s office in Isabela City, Basilan. It was only later that he came to learn that the hard object had been a hand grenade.

WHAT YOU CAN DO?

Please write a letter to the Department of Justice (DoJ), who has the power to review and withdraw charges pursued by the National Prosecution Service (NPS), asking for the unconditional withdrawal of charge for the illegal possession of explosive on Asraf Jamiri on the following grounds:

That, the evidence on Asraf Jamiri for illegal possession of explosive, was taken by way of torture. Under the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, evidence that is the product of torture could not be used in court proceedings on a tortured victim accused of any crime;

That, Asraf Jamiri was deprived of due process when he was arrested, detained and the charges on him filed in court. Before the prosecutors submitted the charges on him, there was no information as to whether or not they had subjected him to a thorough assessment to establish that he had “acted with discernment” in committing the alleged offense that the military and prosecutors had charged him with as required by the R.A. 9344.

These are very important matters that the prosecutors must consider in determining the criminal liability of a person.

You can also write to the regional office IX of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urging them to complete their investigation into the incident promptly.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Re: PHILIPPINES: False charge on a torture victim must be withdrawn

Name of the victim:
Asraf Jamiri Musa (17), a freshman student of Bachelor of Science in Education (BSED), a resident of Barangay Matatag, Lamitan City, Basilan Province

Alleged perpetrators:
1. 1 Lt Gian Carlo A. Galanza and soldiers attached to the 32nd Infantry Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army
2. P/Chief Inspector Nestor Placio of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Lamitan City, Basilan province

Date and place of incident:
On June 23, 2011 at about 1:45pm in Lamitan City, Basilan province

I am writing to draw your attention to the case of Asraf Jamiri Musa, a 17-year-old torture victim who is presently being prosecuted over planted evidence. He was taken from his home by soldiers and policemen, whose details are mentioned above, over allegations that he was a member of the Abu Sayyaf, a group involve in kidnap-for-ransom.

When he was arrested, the soldiers and the policemen had neither arrest orders for him nor justifiable reasons to take him into custody without an arrest warrant. The soldiers and the policemen, however, filed fabricated charges for illegal possession of explosives by planting evidence on him while in their custody.

His wrists were cuffed behind his back and he was blindfolded with a handkerchief; his ankles were bound with rope and his head wrapped with cellophane. He was then repeatedly punched in the stomach and left side of his body. On three occasions he was submerged in a water-filled drum. The soldiers repeatedly threatened to kill him if he did not admit his membership with the group.

While blindfolded the soldiers made him take hold of a hard object; at the time he had no idea of which it might be. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of pictures being taken while he was holding it. He was then taken to the police station and to the prosecutor’s office in Isabela City, Basilan. It was only later that he came to learn that the hard object had been a hand grenade.

I am deeply concerned by the deprivation of rights to due process of Asraf Jamiri. While I appreciates his release to his parent’s custody on September 8; however, I urge you to correct the violations committed on him by affording him adequate remedy. Thus, I strongly urge your office to seriously consider withdrawing without delay the charge against him.

The evidence used by the prosecution for a charge of illegal possession of explosive on Asraf Jamiri was taken by way of torture. And under the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 any evidence that are the product of torture cannot be use in court proceedings.

Also, before Asraf Jamiri was charged by the prosecutors, there was no information as to whether or not they had subjected him to a thorough assessment to establish that he had “acted with discernment”, if indeed he committed the crime as charged, as required by the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (R.A. 9344). These are very important matters that the prosecutors must consider in determining criminal liability of a minor.

Finally, I also urge you to ensure that the regional office IX of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) completes their investigation into the incident promptly.

I trust that you take action on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

———————-
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines
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