Tag Archives: MAG

[Statement] on the Philippine Government’s Response to COVID 19 -Medical Action Group

“Do no harm in times of emergency”

The 2019 novel coronavirus or COVID 19 is indeed a significant threat to global public health, prompting the World Health Organization to officially label the situation as a pandemic for continuously reaching an exponential geographical spread.

Swift, decisive and effective government action is necessary and crucial. While the government health emergency response may limit the enjoyment of certain rights like the freedom of movement to prevent the spread of disease, it should not compromise the fulfillment of other rights, foremost of which is the peoples’ rights to decent jobs, food, shelter, and the enjoyment of a life in dignity.

While placing the whole of Luzon including the National Capital Region (NCR) and other areas of the Visayas and Mindanao under “enhanced community quarantine” from 15 March 2020 to 14 April 2020 is considered the most appropriate way of stopping the transmission of the virus by imposing “home quarantine” and “social distancing” measures, however public safety and order is simply not enough as it now results to deterioration and/or worsening of peoples’ capacities to meet their basic daily survival needs and that of their families.

While we are cognizant of the urgency to limit the movements of people as an infectious disease control measure and recognize the efforts of the government with the Department of Health taking the lead role in protecting public health, this should be implemented in accordance with human rights norms, principles and standards especially in times of emergencies. The government should strike a balance between ensuring infectious disease control and conforming with its international human rights obligations.

More than ever a rights-respecting approach to this public health emergency is most advisable.

We, the Medical Action Group, a health and human rights organization advocating the right to health for all, call upon the Philippine government to:

1. Continuously provide accurate, timely and transparent information on the public health situation with periodic updates through reliable media. Educating not just disciplining the public is the key to prevention;

2. provide opportunities for civil society and the public to participate and be mobilized in order to augment the capacity for emergency preparedness, rapid response, risk reduction, referral network, and information dissemination;

3. make sure that social protection measures are in places such as food provision, financial support, and continuity of basic public services like water, electricity, and communication to appease the public. While infectious disease control is an immediate concern, programmatic and holistic measures are important to reduce the effects of the public health crisis;

4. give attention to the mental health issues of the people and the affected communities arising from the psychosocial consequences of the current public health crisis; and

5. ensure the protection and safety of health professionals and other emergency responders from occupational risks. We should recognize that front liners are putting their lives at risk to keep the public safe.

This global health crisis has a multidimensional impact on the lives and well-being of peoples and communities, especially the poor and vulnerable. Let us confront it in a holistic, comprehensive manner anchored on and guided by, human rights norms, principles, and standards.

While drastic times call for drastic measures, it entails shared responsibilities to ensure that our actions contribute to putting an end to this public health crisis and not to cause further harm.

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[Event] IMAGES OF HUMAN RIGHTS: PAST AND PRESENT Photo Exhibit of Political Cartoons of MAG member, Dr. William “Net” Billones

As part of the celebration for the International Human Rights Day 2019, the Commission on Human Rights and the Medical Action Group invites you to:

IMAGES OF HUMAN RIGHTS: PAST AND PRESENT
Photo Exhibit of Political Cartoons of MAG member, Dr. William “Net” Billones

The launching of the exhibit will be held tomorrow, 10:00 AM – 12:00 NN at CHR Bulwagang Diokno. See you there!

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[Statement] No One is safe from Torture -MAG

No One is safe from Torture
MAG Statement on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Genesis Argoncillo alias “Tisoy” was just waiting for the cellphone load he bought from the store next to their house in Novaliches, Quezon City when the policemen arrested him for not wearing a shirt. He was brought to a police station along with others in Barangay Sauyo as a part of the current anti-crime campaign of the Philippine National Police called “Oplan Zero Tambay”. A few days later, he was seen gasping for air inside the crowded cell and was later pronounced dead in the hospital.

He was the fifth detainee to die inside jail cells of the Quezon City Police Department in less than a month. The police claimed that the death of Tisoy was due to jail congestion and not because he was maltreated at the police station. But his family believed that he was tortured to death as his death certificate showed he suffered multiple blunt force trauma in the neck, head, chest, and upper extremities. The police explained that Tisoy’s death might be self-inflicted, as he was uncontrollable, making a scene inside the cell. But they later charged two inmates for the murder of Tisoy.

The death of Tisoy and many others in police custody only proved that the climate of impunity persists with the erosion of the rule of law and total disregard of the standard police procedures. With more than 19,000 death as a result of the war on drugs and now nearly 8,000 people who were rounded up in the anti-tambay campaign by the police in just a week since President Rodrigo Duterte declared to rid off the streets of loiterers to help lessen crime and maintain peace and order, as he admitted the problem on illegal drugs “has become far worse”, human rights have become a collateral damage.

According to Ms Edeliza P. Hernandez, Executive Director of Medical Action Group, “Before it was Kian, now it is Tisoy. It seems like the police do not treat us as human anymore as they can brutally killed or torture anyone without showing any fear of accountability.”

“It is an irony that the law enforcement agencies who are charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order are the ones committing these acts of violence,” she explained.

This is so despite the entry into force UN Convention Against Torture, 31 years ago which the Philippines is a state party, to prevent the abuse of police power through the systematic use of torture and ill treatment of persons deprived of liberty.

But in spite the enactment of RA 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law in 2009 that makes torture a crime in the country, however in practice, police brutality, extortion, intimidation, torture and maltreatment occur with constant regularity, especially in the course of exercising their powers and in fact have worsened in both practice and severity under the present political dispensation. The threats to life and liberties are compounded with the failure of the justice system to hold accountable those who violate the people’s fundamental rights and freedom.

“Justifying the killings or dismissing the act torture usually falls on the shoulder of medical and health professionals by issuing medico-legal report. This puts the health professional in a dilemma where it runs contrary to our Hippocratic Oath of Profession of do no harm. It is our duty to support the pursuit of justice by rendering our service truthfully and legally without intimidation,” Ms. Hernandez pointed out.

Today marks the commemoration of the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture. The Medical Action Group together with the United Against Torture Coalition are calling on all Filipinos to listen to the cry of torture survivors and their families for justice and to join the annual conduct of the Basta Run Against Torture (BRAT) to make the public aware that torture continues to happen unabated.

“It is everyone’s concern because no one is safe from torture. Anyone of us can become the next victim.” She added.

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[From the web] Dr. June Lopez reelected to Anti-Torture Treaty Body -MAG

Dr. June Lopez reelected to Anti-Torture Treaty Body

mag logo new“Today, States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) have elected, in the first round, twelve members to the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT). All twelve will serve their term from 1 January 2017, for four years. APT wishes them all the best for the forthcoming period of membership.

Of the elected members, five were re-elected for a second term of four years:

Hans-Jörg Bannwart (Switzerland)
Malcolm Evans (United Kingdom)
Margarete Osterfeld (Germany)
June Caridad Pagaduan-Lopez (Philippines)
Victor Zaharia (Moldova)

Seven new members were elected:

Satyabhooshun Gupt Domah (Mauritius)
María Dolores Gómez (Argentina)
Petros Michaelides (Cyprus)
Kosta Mitrovic (Serbia)
Abdellah Ounnir (Morocco)
Haimoud Ramdan (Mauritania)
Zdenka Perović (Montenegro)

With its 25 members, the SPT is the largest treaty body within the United Nations. Its mandate is also unique within the UN, as members need to be able to conduct visits to various types of places of detention in any country, interview persons deprived of liberty, analyse the situation of torture and ill-treatment, and work constructively with States authorities, National Preventive Mechanisms, and a variety of other stakeholders.

Elections represent an opportunity to strengthen the composition and expertise of the Subcommittee. In today’s elections, only four of the 14 candidates were women. All of them were elected and the gender balance of the whole SPT will be thus maintained, with 12 women out of the 25 members.

The representation of the Africa group will increase from next year, with the election of three new members, two of them from Northern Africa. Hopefully, this will help advancing the effective implementation of the OPCAT, the biggest challenge faced by States in the region.”

Medical Action Group (MAG)
Secretariat
United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)- Philippines

http://magph.org/news/213-dr-june-lopez-reelected-to-anti-torture-treaty-body

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[Statement] Human rights group condemns the killing of woman human rights defender, appeals to Duterte for justice -MAG

Human rights group condemns the killing of woman human rights defender, appeals to Duterte for justice

Photo from MAG FB page

mag logo newThe Medical Action Group (MAG), health and human rights group, appeals to the government to take immediate and concrete actions to investigate the killing of human rights defender in Mariveles, Bataan.

A day after President Rody Duterte sworn into office, Gloria Capitan, president of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamaya ng Lucanin (SNML) and woman human rights defender, of Barangay Lucanin in Mariveles, Bataan, slain on Friday night.

Two still unidentified motorcycle-riding men reportedly gunned down Gloria Capitan. Based on police report, Efren Capitan, 58, Lucanin barangay kagawad, said his wife Gloria, 57, sustained three gunshot wounds, two in the neck and one in the arm from caliber .45 revolver.

Gloria Capitan, “Ate Glo”, as she was fondly called by everyone, as president of SNML and known environmental rights defender of Mariveles, Bataan actively involved in opposing the construction and presence of huge coal stockpiles facility located inside the Seafront Shipyard and Port Terminal Services Corporation, near their neighborhood owned by the Limay Bulk and Terminal Handling Corp.

Based on documentation, since 2015, for her work on the opposition to coal storage facility in their community, “Ate Glo” faced intimidation and threats from representatives allegedly connected with the coal company. She has led the community to petition the government authorities for the permanent closure of the open storage facility since study https://noharm-asia.org/…/coal-health-and-human-rights-less… revealed that communities complained of significant increased suffering from asthma and respiratory related diseases, and as they are already experiencing negative impacts on their environmental conditions and economic situation.

According to reports, because of intense opposition from residents, the coal company had allegedly resorted to intimidation, creating tension and fear in the affected communities.

The killing of “Ate Glo”, indicates that human rights defenders working on land and environmental issues in connection with so-called “development projects” facing a particularly ‘high risk of violations’.

According to a recent report published by Global Witness, the Philippines is not only the second most dangerous place for journalists, it is also the second deadliest country for environmental rights defenders. Based on the report they released last June 20, entitled “On Dangerous Ground”, documented that 185 killings of environmental activists around the world in 2015, nearly 60 percent more than in 2014 and the highest since it began collecting data dating back to 2002.

Further, based on documentation from September 2013- May 2016 by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)*, there are sixty three (63) documented cases of human rights violations/abuses against human rights defenders allegedly perpetrated by private armed goons and security guards, which majority of the cases are in connection with mining and land issues.

MAG said it is essential that thorough investigations are conducted as soon as possible to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Amid unrelenting attacks against human rights defenders, it is high time the authorities take concrete steps to ensure safety for all human rights defenders in the country, and their families,” MAG stressed recalling the government’s obligation to guarantee security and protection for all human rights defenders.

“We urge the government to publicly condemn the killing of Gloria Capitan and ensure an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into her death,” MAG said. “This cycle of violence will only stop when impunity is addressed and perpetrators of such attack are put to justice.”

“This tragedy points once again to major faults in the protection of rights defenders in the country. And we call on the government to enact a law to ensure protection for human rights defenders,’ MAG concluded.

*The MAG and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) are currently implementing 3-year project supported by the European Union (EU) under its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), http://eeas.europa.eu/…/documents/press_corner/20142606c.pdf to provide support for and strengthen protection of human rights defenders and their families.

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[Statement] “End Torture in the Philippines”

(from left to right) AFP Human Rights Office Chief Col. Jose Antonio Carlos Motril, DILG Undersecretary for Operations Edwin Enrile, MAG Chairperson Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, PNP Human Rights Affairs Office Chief PC Supt. Antonio Viernes, CHR Commissioner Jose Manuel Mamauag, PAHRA Chairperson Max de Mesa, Sister Arnold Maria Noel of Balay Rehabilitation Center and Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC). Photo by MAG

(from left to right) AFP Human Rights Office Chief Col. Jose Antonio Carlos Motril, DILG Undersecretary for Operations Edwin Enrile, MAG Chairperson Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, PNP Human Rights Affairs Office Chief PC Supt. Antonio Viernes, CHR Commissioner Jose Manuel Mamauag, PAHRA Chairperson Max de Mesa, Sister Arnold Maria Noel of Balay Rehabilitation Center and Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC). Photo by MAG

July 3, 2014

Dear all,

Thank you for joining this year’s June 26 campaign International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, by attending and actively participating in the forum-dialogue at the InterContinental Hotel in Makati City organized by the Medical Action Group (MAG) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) in coordination with the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)- Philippines and in partnership with the European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines.

MAG TFDP

The forum-dialogue brought together key stakeholders in torture prevention from government, National Human Rights Institution, security sector, diplomatic community, civil society organizations to media. The forum-dialogue highlights our commitment to provide justice to torture victims and their families, and collates our voices to one call to “End Torture in the Philippines”.

So what did we conclude from the above-mentioned forum-dialogue? Through the notes of and information from panel of reactors about the report, “Torture Impunity, An Analysis of the Implementation of the Anti-Torture Law in the Philippines” by the members of the UATC-Philippines and in cooperation with the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), we learn not only of the situation of torture in the country but also the need in generating a more thorough and systematic response to address the problem of torture.

The forum-dialogue also affirmed our commitment in ending torture impunity in the Philippines as reflected in “June 26 Declaration on the Fight against Torture Impunity in the Philippines” signed notably by several government officials, members of diplomatic community and guests of June 26th event.

The forum-dialogue has also challenged us to think about how to make our collaboration productive and effective towards full rehabilitation of victims of torture and their families through effective and diligent implementation of the Anti-Torture Law in the Philippines.

Kindly see attachments, speech of EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux, available reaction notes by panel of reactors and presentation of the key findings of the above-cited report including some media links about the visibility of June 26th event.

Our thanks to all involved for making this forum-dialogue a success.

We look forward to working with you in this important work and we count on your continued support of the promotion of the right to freedom from torture and to ensuring effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Law.
Regards,

(Sgd.) Edeliza P. Hernandez (Sgd.)                                            Emmanuel C. Amistad
Executive Director                                                                     Executive Director
Medical Action Group                                                               Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

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[Press Release] Joint investigators and prosecutors training for the first time to fight torture -MAG

Joint investigators and prosecutors training for the first time to fight torture

MAGThe 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

Press release
January 23, 2013

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[Off-the-shelf] Read less know more Primer on the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 published -CLRD

Read less know more
Primer on the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 published
by Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRD)

CLRD ATL primer cover

Part of the anniversary celebration the CLRDC was the soft launching of the “Primer on the
Anti-Torture Act of 2009”. Although printed copies are already available, the CLRDC team
opted for the “soft launching” coined to mean a publication of the primer’s soft copy in the
blog site of the organization. Printed copies were distributed to some NGOs on December
20, 2012 in time for CLRDC’s decade of service. The primer is also one of the contributions of
CLRDC to the civil society in its advocacy against torture.

For the electronic text of the primer, kindly visit http://clrdc.wordpress.com/.

The primer seeks to respond to issues and questions frequently asked in the Anti-Torture Act
of 2009, from the definition of torture, the acts constituting the crime of torture, the penalties
involved, the legal remedies that maybe availed of by the victims of torture, the principles of
command responsibility explained, as well as the rights of a person under custodial
investigation. The readers of the said Primer can better appreciate the law by reading its
concise and simplified form and presentation. Reading less but learning more about the
right not to be tortured.

The primer was the collective efforts of the members of the United against Torture Coalition
(UATC) and was written by the CLRDC team. Special thanks goes to the Medical Action
Group (MAG) for financing the printing and reproduction of the cover page.

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[Press Release] UK, DOJ and PNP forge partnership on training of investigators and prosecutors to fight torture -MAG

UK, DOJ and PNP forge partnership on training of investigators and prosecutors to fight torture

Impunity and insufficient evidence in torture cases against alleged perpetrators are still among the serious impediments to the prevention of torture. Consequently, few complaints are brought forward and few actual prosecutions are made.

To help fight torture, the Medical Action Group (MAG), with support from the British Embassy Manila signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that will provide training for investigators and prosecutors for a more effective and efficient investigation and prosecution of torture cases in the country.

In a media briefing at DOJ, Mr. Steph Lysaght, Political Section Head of the British Embassy Manila said the British Embassy’ project with the MAG and in partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) aims to enhance the capacity of the investigators on investigations and evidence collection and to provide necessary knowledge and skills for the prosecutors on how physical and medical evidences are evaluated in court proceedings on alleged torture cases according to the Anti-Torture Law (Republic Act No. 9745) and international standards contained in the UN Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Istanbul Protocol”).

The training will be undertaken with funding from the British Embassy’s Human Rights and Democracy Programme.

“This is to emphasize the role that documentation and proper legal process play in the investigation and prosecution of torture cases. Close collaboration between the health and legal professions is crucial in the effective investigation of alleged cases of torture and in establishing standards on how to recognize and document torture in order that the documentation may serve as valid evidence in court,” Erlinda Senturias, M.D., MAG Board of Trustees member explained.

“The need to increase the capacity of investigators in handing evidences and prosecutors in evaluating physical and medical evidences represents recognition that effective and quality documentation of alleged torture cases can contribute mightily to reducing impunity in the Philippines and obtaining redress for torture victims,” MAG added.

Since 2004 the MAG has been increasingly engaged in capacity development among health and legal professionals on the investigation and documentation of torture according to the standards contained in the Istanbul Protocol. MAG explained that the use of the Istanbul Protocol was proved to be an important piece of evidence in the first decision of the Supreme Court (SC) [G.R. No. 180906, The Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo, October 7, 2008] on the application of the Writ of Amparo in the case of Manalo brothers.

Last year, the city and municipal health doctors through the Association of Municipal Health Officers of the Philippines (AMHOP) have declared their support for the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act.

This is not the first time that the British Embassy partnered with the MAG to promote the value and use of medical documentation of torture. In 2004, the two facilitated the production of the groundbreaking “Guidelines to Prevent Torture and the Manual on the Recognition, Documentation and Reporting of Torture,” one of the first successful modifications of the Istanbul Protocol. The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) acknowledged the valuable contribution the project made towards fulfillment of Philippines’ international human rights obligations, and still uses the manual in its work.

This partnership among the civil society, the government, the police and the British Embassy affirms the shared commitment to uphold justice and protection of human rights.

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[Event] Medical Mission in Brgy. Malanday, Marikina

Kalusugan ng masa, unahin ng gobyerno! Presyo ng Langis Ibaba! Regulasyon sa Langis Ipatupad!

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[Press Release] Asian rights and rehabilitation groups gather in Manila presses for right to rehabilitation for victims of torture

The Medical Action Group (MAG) will host the Asian Regional Conference on Enhancing the Capacity of Rehabilitation Centers and Civil Society in Accessing Justice for the Victims of Torture on November 22 to 26, 2011 at the Diamond Hotel.

The five-day Asian Regional Conference is being organized by the MAG, in partnership with the European Union (EU) and International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). This will highlight current initiatives and “good practices” or “successful interventions”, being implemented in the Philippines and several Asian countries to promote right to rehabilitation of victims of torture.

Attending the conference are representatives of several human rights groups and rehabilitation centers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tibet.

“When one considers the torture cases of Joselito Binayug, the former police officer who was caught in a cell phone video torturing an alleged robbery suspect inside the Asuncion police precinct, Lenin Salas et al in Pampanga and Khan Ajid Balanting in Basilan, one must be doubtful about the intent of the Anti-Torture Law,” Edeliza P. Hernandez, Executive Director of the MAG.

Hernandez said this regional conference which will tackle the growing challenges on rehabilitation confronting the victims of torture is significant on our part to learn from experiences of other Asian countries in their work in promoting right to rehabilitation of victims of torture.

“Despite the country has the Anti-Torture Law but we have cases and first-hand experiences uncovering its limitation and flaw which undermines the right of the victim to medical care and rehabilitation,” Hernandez added.

The Asian rehab groups press the Governments that effective rehabilitation services and programs are established in their country and are accessible to all victims as their obligation under the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.-end-

[Event] ASIAN Regional Conference on Enhancing Capacity of Rehabilitation Center and Civil Society in Access to Justice of Victims in Torture – MAG

ASIAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENHANCING CAPACITY OF REHABILITATION CENTER AND CIVIL SOCIETY IN ACCESS TO JUSTICE
OF VICTIMS IN TORTURE

Introduction

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) invites nominations for participation and call for conference papers in the Asian Regional Conference on enhancing the capacity of rehabilitation centers and civil society in accessing justice for the victims of torture to be held in Manila, Philippines from 22-24 November 2011. The theme of the conference is “Access to Justice of Victims of Torture in Rehabilitation.” The Asian Regional Conference is being organized by the Medical Action Group (MAG), an IRCT member-organization in the Philippines.

Article 2 of the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (referred hereafter as the CAT) says in part that each State party should “take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture.”

Torture is prohibited in all international human rights instruments and domestic laws. Still, torture is prevalent in many countries in the world. These conditions continue to prevail and are widespread due to lack of infrastructure in place for investigation of torture case, prosecution of perpetrators at all levels and the  holistic rehabilitation for torture victims.

In Asia, these issues are significant considering the situation that torture cases are not promptly, impartially and effectively investigated. This is compounded with the fact that majority of perpetrators go unpunished, and many governments do not take the necessary steps to provide access to holistic rehabilitation and justice for the victims. Each of the rehabilitation centers and civil society working with the torture victims, in general, is characterized by different set of challenges and opportunities. But they all a common share common goal of eliminating torture and that justice must be given to torture victims.

Following the obligations of States to prevent torture and to hold perpetrators accountable, Article 14 of the CAT stipulates that each State party shall ensure in its legal system that victims of torture obtain redress and have an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. It is important to note that the services provided by rehabilitation centers for the victims of torture go beyond the aspects of rehabilitation. They also contribute to raising public awareness on campaign against torture and enhancing capacity of civil society supporting torture victims and their families to obtain redress. The campaign and advocacy work about the prevalence of torture and government’s acquiescence or participation in it can create public discourse and pressure, and eventually bring about policy change on the need for justice as part of rehabilitation.

This clearly illustrates the vital role that rehabilitation centers play in access to justice for the victims of torture with which fulfilling torture victims’ right to rehabilitation is therefore an important element in preventing further violation and in promoting social healing and justice.

Objectives

The general objective of the conference is to map out the different approaches adopted by rehabilitation centers and civil society in accessing justice for the victims of torture.

The conference will be a venue for exchange of information about related rehabilitation work and access to justice initiatives in the region, to discuss challenges and ways by which these can be overcome, and to share different programs and initiatives with the objective of exchanging views and adopting “good practice” or “successful intervention”, which may be applicable in the Philippines and in Asia.

The conference will seek to:

1.    Identify areas of common concerns, specifically on the need for capacity development for institutions that are engaged in access to justice program; and
2.    Discuss and plan for possible collaborative and cooperative actions that address the challenges faced by various organizations represented and similar organizations in the region, especially in enhancing their capacity to continue their rehabilitation and access to justice work.

Learning methodology

The conference will be conducted in a participatory manner using methods such as group discussion, information sharing and presentation of the highlights of conference papers submitted by each IRCT member in Asia. Experts in the field of human rights and rehabilitation work will be invited to speak on a particular subject. Audio-visual material will also be used to facilitate communication and inter-cultural learning.

On November 21, a meeting of IRCT Asian regional partners on Non-State Actors or NSA project i.e. Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Philippines will be conducted before the actual conference to discuss the facilitation of the Regional Conference. From November 22-24, these will be devoted to discussion on sessions on issues and challenges concerning rehabilitation and access to justice work.

Participants

Representatives from nineteen IRCT members in Asia and local NGOs will be selected to participate. (Please wait for further notice on the number of representative that be selected from each IRCT member and local NGOs.) Selected participants from local NGOs are also invited those who are actively working in the field of rehabilitation work, access to justice and, related to civil and political rights.

The selected participant who will take part in the conference must prepare in advance a 5-10 page paper, (1.5 space, 12 font, Times New Roman) addressing the rehabilitation work in access to justice of victims of torture. Abstract should be submitted no later than October 7, 2011. The annex to this note provides separate information on submission of abstracts.

If your organization would like to nominate a participant, please submit a nomination letter to the conference Secretariat on or before October 7. Participants who have been selected will be informed by October 17. We will send out another wave of invitation through e-mail by October 18 which will include the conference venue, program detail, list of participants and other logistical requirements.

A list of accepted paper abstracts will be posted online at this time or will be sent through e-mail.

Practical information

The conference organizers will cover travel costs (including visa fees) and accommodation during the entire duration of the conference. Please let us know all your travel need and arrangement, air and land.

Flight reservation:  Please make your booking arrangements ahead of time and ensure that modest or economy class travel is maximize otherwise we will provide you with all the travel arrangements required from the city of departure to your final destination.  If you have any special needs or require special assistance, please let us know at the time of reservation so that we can accommodate all your needs.

Insurance:  Please let us know at the time of reservation if you require travel insurance.

Visa:  We highly recommend that you check with us prior to travel and especially with your consulate the visa requirements for each country as international laws change frequently. Please also check the link http://www.dfa.gov.ph/main/index.php/consular-services/visa

Dietary requirement: Please let us know your dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian or halal food) when you submit your nomination form so that necessary arrangement could made for your food requirements.

Dress code: Please wear your national costume or clothing which is significant for your country during the formal opening ceremony on November 22 as the diplomatic communities will be invited to the opening event.

Nominations, paper abstracts and conference related communications should be sent to the conference Secretariat thru e-mail at IRCTasianconfab2011@gmail.com. Please also check our Facebook http://www.facebook.com/medicalactiongroup and website http://magph.org/ for conference updates.

Call for conference paper

Conference theme:  Rehabilitation in Access to Justice of Victims of Torture

Theme Tracks

I.    Role of rehabilitation center in access to justice for torture victims
II.    Forensic Evidence in the fight Against Torture
III.    Good practice or successful interventions in Access to Justice
IV.    Concept, Significance and the Link of Rehabilitation with Access to Justice
Guidelines for Submission of Paper Abstracts

1.    All abstract must be submitted electronically. Abstracts submitted should be of previously original work.
2.    All abstract submissions are required to be structured under these headings:
I.    Purpose
II.    Method
III.    Result
IV.    Conclusion
3.    Only one author can be listed as the presenter. Co-authors are welcome to attend the session. But the expenses fare is to be shouldered by the sending organization.
4.    All abstract must be 450 words or less, use Times New Roman, 12 font size and be no more than a single legal size page. Handwritten abstract will not be accepted. The title and the designated presenter are not included in the word count. Headings within the abstract are included in the word count.
5.    All abstract must be submitted in English.
6.    Acronyms and abbreviations should be spelled out at first use.

Full paper submissions are due by November 18, 2011. All submissions must be in PDF format and submitted electronically.

The conference Secretariat must receive abstract by not later than October 7, 2011. Abstract should be addressed to Edeliza P. Hernandez, Executive Director of MAG and head of the conference Secretariat through e-mail at IRCTasianconfab2011@gmail.com

[Featured Photo] A President bereft of any compassion for human rights victims and human rights – Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

Edeliza Hernandez, E.D. of Medical Action Group, Clair Umbrero, widow of Tatay Umbrero and Jonal Javier, Program Coordinator of TFDP in a meeting with the Press July 16, 2011.

“He is a heartless uncompassionate President. A President bereft of any compassion for human rights victims and human rights. Tatay Umbrero’s death exposes more that President Aquino’s ‘Matuwid na daan’ is a mirage.” TFDP

Photo by Richie Supan/TFDP

Read more

[Featured Site of the Week] The Medical Action Group- www.magph.org

Title: Medical Action Group (MAG)
Author: Medical Action Group
URL: http://www.magph.org/
Description: MAG envisions a society where fundamental human rights are upheld and protected at all times in accordance with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights..

The importance of the OPCAT and the role of doctors and other health professionals in preventative visits

Source: The Medical Action Group

The Medical Action Group (MAG) is a health and human rights organizations which envisions a society where fundamental human rights are upheld at protected at all times in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). MAG is a member of the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines.

The right to reparation for victims of a wrongful act is a well-established principle of international law. This obligation also applies in respect to international human rights and humanitarian law. Rehabilitation is a very practical form of assistance for victims of torture. It is widely acknowledged, amongst those working in this field, within the human rights community, and amongst torture survivors themselves, that rehabilitation services are most effective when they combine a variety of multidisciplinary inputs: medical and psychological interventions, together with complementary psychosocial, legal and social services.

This understanding is also reflected in the Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (hereafter referred as OPCAT)
The innovative nature of the OPCAT which entered into force on 22 June 2006, established a system of regular visits to places where individuals are deprived of their liberty. Likewise, it is quite unique amongst human rights instruments, combining an international visiting mechanism with national mechanisms regularly examining conditions of people deprived of their liberty, and making recommendations for improvement and for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
It is widely recognized at both the international and regional level that regular and independent visits to places of detention have been proven to have a significant effect to prevent torture and ill-treatment.

Based on the data of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), sixty seven (67) States have signed the OPCAT and fifty-seven (57) parties have ratified, acceded and succeeded the instrument. It is very encouraging that the signatories include States from all geographic regions of the world. In Southeast Asia region, Cambodia has already signed the instrument in 2007.

The Role of Doctors and Other Relevant Health Professionals in Preventative Visits

Places of detention must become more transparent to monitor respect for the human rights of detainees and deter violations particularly torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Regular preventive visit to places of detention represents an effective way of preventing torture and ill-treatment, and contributes to the improvement of conditions of detention. The existence and/or creation of independent visiting mechanisms to places of detention at the national level are crucial for this transparency.

However, for such a visit­ing system to be fully effective it has to be carried out by a multi-discipli­nary body, which includes, amongst others, physicians and other health professionals. Preventive visits requires a comprehen­sive approach looking at all aspects of conditions of detention such as health care services, documenting cases of tor­ture, ethical standards, can only be adequately assessed by a physician or other health professional. Thus this must be reflected in the composition of the national mechanism as well as in the visiting teams themselves. In addition to the other relevant expertise, there should be a physician or other qualified health professional in each visiting team.

Looking at provisions in the OPCAT on the composition of the Sub-Committee and the national preventative mechanisms, one can see that the words ‘health professionals’ or similar do not appear in the text. As regards the Subcommittee, the formulation in article 5(2) is the catch all ‘various fields relevant to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty’.

Conclusions

From our point of view, the clear advantage of the OPCAT will be the gathering of different forms of expertise in this field at the national level into one, independent institution. With the guidance and support of the Subcommittee, and with the potential for on-going dialogue and exchange with the Sub-committee, the State Party national NGOs, and also, conceivably, national preventative mechanisms in other States Parties to the OPCAT, the national preventative mechanisms will a significant new actor at the national level for torture prevention.

As we continue to seek to find ways to implement the prohibition of torture – which persists despite its legal status, it becomes increasingly clear that a sector-wide or even a whole society approach is required.

Working on legal or institutional reform, on preventative visits, on improving access to justice, on initiatives in support of victims of torture and members of their families, are all worthwhile, but real implementation will require the combined efforts of all actors in this field who should be included in torture prevention initiatives.

The structures to be created under the OPCAT will be a very useful new platform to pursue these more holistic approaches to torture prevention, and MAG looks forward to immediate Senate ratification of the OPCAT.