June 26 UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
Basta! Run Against Torture VII
MAKE PHILIPPINES A TORTURE-FREE ZONE
The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) is an international human rights instrument that aims to prohibit and prevent torture and cruel, inhuman degrading treatment or punishment around the world. The UNCAT came into force on 26 June 1987 after 20 ratifications since its adoption by the UN General assembly on 10 Dec 1984.
This year, 26 years after the UNCAT came into force and with 153 state parties, the world has yet to rid of the continued use and practice of torture and ill-treatment. Over recent years, there has been an assault on various fundamental rights in the context of counter terrorism, protecting national security, stopping the rise of criminality, and maintaining peace and order. The protection against torture, an absolute and non-derogable right, provided by the treaty has been undermined – marked by a growing acceptance of torture or other ill-treatment in the context of intelligence-gathering, resort to illegal modes of detention for those suspected of involvement in terrorism, criminality and subversion, and lack of accountability for those who have authorized or committed torture and other ill-treatment. These are key challenges facing the human rights movement today.
On June 26, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, key organizations around the will focus on the global reaffirmation of nations and peoples to the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment as set in the UDHR and the UNCAT – reaffirmations that should be felt and experienced in the smallest and farthest of communities.
Torture is abhorrent. Torture is illegal. Yet torture is inflicted on men, women and children in the Philippines and well over half the countries around the world. Despite the universal condemnation of torture, it is still being used openly and secretly using national and international security from acts of terror as justifications for such acts. It is used to extract confession, to interrogate, to punish or to intimidate. While governments condemn terrorist acts, it is also evident that acts of terror are happening inside detention centers and prison cells, on city streets and in remote villages. The cruelty of torturers kills, maims, and leave scars on the body and mind that last a lifetime. The victims of torture are not just people in the hands of the torturers. Friends, families and the wider community all suffer. Torture even damages and distorts and the hopes of future generations.
In spite of strong provisions enshrined in the Philippine Constitution prohibiting the use of torture, its criminalization as provided for by Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Lawof 2009, and the Philippines having been a state party to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) since 1987, the act remains widely used today. The concept of the right to be free from torture eludes the general public and disappointingly, government representatives and state security forces as well. In order to see the decline of the practice in country, it is important that all members of society become informed of this right inherent to all individuals. All places where people are deprived of their liberty, no matter how big or small, near or far, must be placed under the lens of scrutiny to finally stop this inhumane practice.
This coming June 26, the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), spearheaded by Amnesty International Philippines (AIPH), Balay Rehabilitation Center (BALAY), Medical Action Group (MAG), the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), with the support of the Commission on Human Rights and different government agencies tasked to combat torture, will once again join the international community to commemorate the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture and contribute to the global campaign to prevent and stop the practice of torture in all corners of the world as codified in the UNCAT 26 years ago.
The UATC will focus on addressing the dire need to implement RA 9745 in its fullest extent centering on prevention and accountability as two of the more important aspects of the law that need focus. While it is imperative to ensure accountability of torturers, the group also wants the practice of torture and ill-treatment stopped in every place of detention – whether it is managed by the barangays, the police, the BJMP and other agencies – by allowing unhampered access to monitoring groups.
III. Activity: “Basta! Run Against Torture! VII (BRAT)”
The first ‘Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT)’ was held in June 25, 2002 and served as the launching pad of the national campaign against torture of the United Against Torture Coalition’s (UATC), a network of anti-torture advocates that was organized in May of 2002.
BRAT was the brainchild Fr. Robert Reyes who eventually headed the 50-strong runners from different organizations within UATC. The well-publicized event (covered by various radio, print and TV programs) started at the Oblation Statue in UP Diliman and ended at the Quezon city Memorial Circle to join the rest of the coalition and the media in an hour-long press conference that formally launched the concerted campaign against torture in the Philippines.
The equally successful and well-publicized event BRAT II in 2008, described as an event ‘rarely seen’ by media practitioners, gathered more than a hundred participants from the CSOs, 50 from the CHR and an unprecedented 200 from the Philippine National Police. The event was also supported by members and secretariat of the Committees on Justice and Human Rights (with fulfilled promises of passing the anti-torture bill in the House of Representatives), and the members of the local government of Quezon City. The run aimed to make public the condemnation of torture in the context of the war against terror and human security, preventing the use of torture through a law and the ratification of the OPCAT (which the government subsequently signed August of 2008) and holding into account perpetrators of then act.
From BRAT III to BRAT VI, the activity included the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of Interior and Local government and the Presidential Human Rights Committee in its fold. From a humble beginning of having 5o runners to carry the anti-torture banner, the event gathers almost 700 participants from the afore-mentioned organizations and agencies.
The BRAT has also contributed to milestones in the anti-torture advocacy in the country. RA 9745 was passed in November of 2009 and the Philippines ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) in April of 2012.
This year’s BRAT will focus on the continuous and intensified campaign to make the Philippines a torture-free zoneby ensuring monitoring of all activities and practices in all detention centers – an important step to ensure the effective implementation of the law. Aside from demanding accountability of jail officers and overseers of detention centers in ensuring that torture and ill-treatment is not practiced through formal compliance procedures and education of officers and detainees, the UATC is also proposing a more pro-active positioning in monitoring by all concerned parties with emphasis on government accountability through the community’s participation.
1. To provide a platform for civil society organizations, the CHR, key government agencies, the academe and the youth to push for full implementation of the Anti-Torture Law through an awareness activity that:
a. encourages communities, grassroots and local organizations to be involved in the monitoring of all detention centers in their areas
b. encourages government agencies tasked to manage these detention centers to cooperate and recognize and support monitoring activities of the communities and other local organizations.
Basta Run AgainstTortureVII
MAKE PHILIPPINES A TORTURE-FREE ZONE
VII. Activity Design
United Against Torture Coalition Steering Committee (AIPh, BALAY, MAG, TFDP and PAHRA)
Commission on Human rights
Presidential Human Rights Committee
Philippine National Police Human Rights Affairs Office
Armed Forces of the Philippines Human Rights Office
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology
Other Attendees (TBC)
Department of Justice
Department of Interior and Local Government
Department of Health
Department of Social Works and Development
Select Schools and Academic Institutions
• All participants will assemble at the BantayogngMgaBayani (Quezon Avenue, at the back of Centris) on the 26th of June at around 630 am – 700 am
• The run will start at 700 am sharp
o Most runners will be wearing activity shirts to be provided by the organizers
o All organizations joining the run will only be allowed to carry 1 flag each
- Pre-Frontline – Sound System
- Front line – organizational leaders (carrying the activity tarp
- 2nd liners – organizational flag bearers (colors)
- 1st Block – UATC
- 2nd Block –Academe and Students
- 3rd Block – CHR
- 4th Block – Government Agencies (DILG, DOJ, PHRC, DOH, DepEd, CHED)
- 5thBlock – PNP
- 6th Block – AFP
• Route (right side of the road): BantayogngMgaBayani – (right towards) Eliptical Road – Quezon City Hall – (right towards) PhilCOA – commonwealth – CHR Open Grounds
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