Joint investigators and prosecutors training for the first time to fight torture
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are working together with non-governmental organization, the Medical Action Group (MAG) in a UK-funded project to strengthen present efforts to fight torture in the country.
The British Embassy Manila through its Human Rights and Democracy Programme is providing funding for the project “Enhancing the Capacity of the Prosecutors and Investigators for Effective Investigation and Increased Prosecution of Torture Cases Using Medical Evidence.”
Investigators from the PNP and prosecutors from the DOJ will undergo training that will boost their capacity to preserve and process physical and medical evidences that should have probative value in court.
“This is to emphasize the close collaboration between the legal and police professions. However, investigators and prosecutors must often have limited knowledge and understanding of and insight into each other’s work and may even view each other with scepticism. This first joint training of investigators and prosecutors on investigation and documentation of torture cases is crucial process in providing them common ground and framework to work on the application of international standards for effective investigation and successful prosecution of torture cases in the country.” Erlinda Senturias, M.D., Chairperson of MAG explained.
“This project supports efforts to strengthen human rights and the rule of law in the Philippines. This training programme is unique in that it will not only provide investigators and prosecutors with the tools to improve how they process and present medical evidence, but will also strengthen collaboration between the PNP, the DOJ and civil society. This is an example of the openness and ongoing improvement that necessary for delivering positive results,” added Steph Lysaght, First Secretary and Head of the Political Section of the British Embassy Manila.
“This training will galvanize efforts to address the unbearable crimes of torture that tragically remains to be present, albeit in diminished scale, in our society. Quiet efficiency, integrity and honesty will be your guideposts in the use of tools and skills which hopefully will ensure a perfect conviction rate for Complaints and Information filed involving torture. The same aspiration applies to our partner law enforcement agents from the PNP and the NBI,” DOJ Secretary Leila M. de Lima said.
“The PNP must promote and protect human rights because this task lies at the very core of maintaining peace and order, ensuring public safety and upholding the rule of law in this country,” PCSuperintendent Nestor M. Fajura, Head, PNP Human Rights Affairs Office.
The training begins on 23 January 2013 for the first batch of forty-five (45) investigators mostly from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and from the DOJ prosecutors. Selected graduates of the training will further be trained as trainors for investigators and prosecutors in other parts of the country.
Since 2004, the MAG has been increasingly engaged in capacity development among health and legal professionals on the investigation and documentation of torture cases according to the international standards set by “the Istanbul Protocol,” which provides medical and legal professions with tools for investigating, assessing and reporting allegations of torture.-end-
Note to editors:
The UN Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Istanbul Protocol”), is the international standard that provides medical and legal professions with tools for investigating, assessing and reporting allegations of torture.
The DOJ, PNP and MAG have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the implementation of said project on November 15, 2012. Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima; Mr. Steph Lysaght, Political Section Head of the British Embassy Manila; Police Chief Superintendent Nestor M. Fajura of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office and Dr. Senturias of MAG signed the MOA, while Atty. Milabel A. Cristobal of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) witnessed the MOA signing.
On November 22, 2012, Administrative Order No. 35 http://www.gov.ph/2012/11/22/administrative-order-no-35-s-2012 created a body, “Inter-agency committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.”
MEDICAL ACTION GROUP, INC.
Health and Human Rights for All
January 23, 2013
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