Tag Archives: June 26 Int’l Day in support of Victims of torture

[Press Release] Torture free Philippines should be the “new normal” -UATC

Torture free Philippines should be the “new normal”

On 26 June[1], the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines, a broad network of human rights organizations and human rights defenders together with its partners, In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), is one with the world in commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and in contributing to the campaign for the absolute prohibition of torture in all corners of the world.

On this day in 1987, the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect. The Philippines[2] acceded to this Convention on 18 June 1986.

Torture is an unequivocal crime. Under the UN Convention against Torture, it is prohibited under all circumstances, without exception. Yet torture is still commonplace and systematically being practiced by many States including the Philippines in the conduct of a custodial investigation under the guise of combatting terrorism, curbing criminality, and maintaining peace and order, which risk eroding constitutional and other legal protections. While the Philippines is considered one of its kind in Asia for criminalizing torture as a specific criminal offense with the passage of the Anti-Torture Act in 2009[3], however, the Philippine government failed to fully and effectively implement the law with reported cases of torture and ill-treatment continue unabated.

According to Rose Trajano, PAHRA Secretary-General, “despite having a law criminalizing torture and ill-treatment, there are still reported cases of torture being committed inside detention centers and prison cells, on the city streets and in remote villages.” Trajano added that in the height of the government’s war on drug campaign, most of those who were reportedly killed during the police anti-drug operations have marked similar to that of torture. She warned that “the Anti-Terror bill which is just awaiting the President’s signature will further institutionalize the acts of torture as the proposed law authorizing warrantless arrests and prolonged detention of suspects by which torture usually occurs.”

Since Pres. Rodrigo Duterte placed the Philippine island of Luzon and different parts of the country on lockdown on 15 March 2020, there were hundreds of arrests made by the authorities in the National Capital Region and other parts of the country. The Joint Task Force COVID Shield started releasing daily reports on 30 March, and by then the number of arrested was already 19,340, excluding tens of thousands who were apprehended, but were just either warned or fined, supposedly for violating quarantine rules. From the start of April to May 10, the number of daily arrests did not go below 400, and there were 9 days when police arrested more than 1,000 in a day.[4]

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) has monitored that most of those arrested who allegedly violated quarantine restrictions suffered from cruel and degrading treatment or punishment such as the locking up of five youths inside a dog cage, some curfew violators were ordered to sit in the intense midday sun, and others were paraded chanting prayers and promises not to do it again.

“Today eleven years after the passage of the anti-torture law, it remains a practice. These dehumanizing acts must be banished from our midst through arrests and the effective prosecution of torturers. Torture must have no place in our society,” said Fr. Christian Buenafe, O.Carm, Chairperson of TFDP.

In the recent report[5] of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)[6] on the human rights situation in the Philippines, the report observed that “the response to COVID-19 has seen the same heavy-handed security approach that appears to have been mainstreamed through the ramped-up drug war and counter-insurgency imperatives.” The report also noted that ‘in just the first four months of 2020, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, “harmful rhetoric from the highest levels of the Government has been pervasive and deeply damaging. The rhetoric has ranged from degrading and sexually-charged comments against women human rights defenders, politicians, and combatants – including rape “jokes” – to statements making light of torture, calling for the bombing of indigenous peoples, encouraging extreme violence against drug users and peddlers – even offering bounties, calling for beheadings of civil society actors, and warning that journalists were not immune from “assassination”.”

“This act of cruelty leaves unseen scars especially on mind of the torture victims that last a lifetime”, as explained by Edeliza Hernandez, Executive Director of the Medical Action Group (MAG) on the effects of torture. Hernandez emphasized that torture does not only torment the victims but the society as well. And she pointed out that the majority of the perpetrators go unpunished and most torture victims are usually from vulnerable sectors who lack resources to access lawyers and doctors they are entitled to.

Wilnor Papa of the Amnesty International-Philippines concluded, “the COVID 19 pandemic places us in an unprecedented situation that needs strong commitments and actions from the Philippine government and other stakeholders to respect fundamental rights and freedom particularly the right not to be tortured in this time of crisis.”-end-

#NoToTorture #TortureFreeIsTheBestNormal

[1] The UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in December 2017.

[2] Philippines acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) in April 2012.

[3] https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2009/11/10/republic-act-no-9745/

[4] https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/264432-coronavirus-pandemic-charts-daily-arrests-filing-delays-leave-filipinos-in-jails

[5] https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/06/1065582

[6] https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25924&LangID=E

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[Event] Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT XII) -UATC

Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT XII) -UATC

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 the Philippines, 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 Law of 2009, and the country having been a state party to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) since 1987 and the Optional Protocol to Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) since 2012, the act remains widely used and accepted today. Only one perpetrator, Police Officer Jerrick Dee, has been convicted of the crime while many others remain “untouched” by the legal system as they continue to operate with impunity.

The concept of the right to be free from torture eludes the Philippine public and disappointingly, government representatives and state security forces as well. Evident of this situation is the now infamous ‘’wheel of torture” found in an alleged ‘torture chamber’ in a police station in Laguna, the parading of suspected criminals in Cebu and Batangas and the threat of using abusive policies as a part of the “all-means-necessary” approach to curb crime and criminality.

This coming June 26, the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), spearheaded by Amnesty International Philippines (AIPH), Balay Rehabilitation Center (BALAY), Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND), Medical Action Group (MAG), the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP, 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 34 years ago.

While we focus on combating impunity and ensuring accountability of perpetrators and duty bearers, building on safeguards for the prevention of torture and giving importance to the rehabilitation aspects for victims and perpetrators alike, we will also call on the administration to ensure that the right of everyone to be free from torture is fully respected, protected and fulfilled. We will strive to contribute to the fight against anti-repression and shrinking space for the human rights community and pro-democracy forces by tackling the issue of torture and ill-treatment to a higher level beyond the call for the effective implementation of laws and mechanisms. WE WILL DEMAND THE END TO THE PRACTICE OF TORTURE NOW. WE WILL DEMAND TO END ENFORCED DISSAPEARANCES. WE WILL DEMAND TO STOP EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS.

OVER-ARCHING THEMES:
DU30 Govt wala na ngang nagawa, nag torture pa
DU30 Govt zero efforts for victims, maximum tolerance for torturers

Calls:
Itigil ang enforced dissappearances
Itigil ang torture
Itigil ang EJK

https://web.facebook.com/events/1030179503773718/

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[Statement] Breaking the silence from torture impunity -MAG

Statement from the Medical Action Group, Inc.
June 26, 2015
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (IDSVT)

Breaking the silence from torture impunity

Edel Hernandez, Executive Director of the Medical Action Group (MAG). Photo by MAG

Edel Hernandez, Executive Director of the Medical Action Group (MAG). Photo by MAG

Torture is considered a crime under the international human rights law. It is prohibited everywhere, at all times, and no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be used to justify it. However, the abominable practice of torture continues unabated throughout the world including the Philippines.

mag logo new

It most often takes place in places of detention – where people deprived of liberty are mistreated to extract information, to punish or to discriminate. Women and children in detention are most vulnerable to sexual violence. Many people are subjected to torture on the grounds of their sexual orientation, ethnic origins, political and religious beliefs, age or disabilities.

Yet, no one is punished for committing torture.

Torture has devastating effects not only to torture victims but also to their immediate families, communities and larger society. It is intended to silence the victims. Oftentimes, it is not the survivor’s inability to speak but the fear of reprisal.

Once tortured is tortured for life.

Torture victims desperately need a help to mend their shattered bodies and mind from their traumatic experiences. But through rehabilitation they can reclaim their life and rebuild for their future, and that of their family and community.

As the world commemorates the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims every June 26, the Medical Action Group together with the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC- Philippines) stands in solidarity with victims of torture through the “Basta! Run Against Torture 9” (BRAT IX), to reiterate the demand for torture rehabilitation as a right and a responsibility for all us.

In the Philippines, despite the enactment of the Republic Act no. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law in 2009 which is purportedly aimed at ending torture impunity and giving meaningful implementation to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) to which the Philippines is party since June 1986, rehabilitation remains very elusive.

While the Philippine government in compliance with the anti-torture law has already crafted and approved a comprehensive rehabilitation programs for torture victims, it is still unclear on how rehabilitation program can be effectively implemented and be made accessible to victims and their families.

We therefore join hands with all other members of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) in over 70 countries in calling on the states especially those which have ratified the UNCAT to comply with their state obligations particularly on Article 14 or on the provision of rehabilitation for torture victims.

Breaking the silence against torture impunity is a start to give each and every torture survivor the chance to begin rebuilding their lives. It is our social responsibility to make it happen.

http://magph.org/news/187-breaking-the-silence-from-torture-impunity

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