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[Statement] Rights organisations call for release of activist Teresita Naul on her first anniversary in detention | civicus and omct

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Philippines: Rights organisations call for release of activist Teresita Naul on her first anniversary in detention

Ahead of human rights defender Teresita Naul’s first anniversary in detention on 15 March 2021, civil society alliance CIVICUS and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) call for her immediate release.

Teresita Naul was arrested on 15 March 2020 in Lanao del Sur, on the southern island of Mindanao, by the national police and the Philippines Army (AFP) on fabricated charges of “kidnapping”, “destructive arson” and “serious illegal detention”. Police claim she is a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), an armed Communist rebel group responsible for an attack on the military in Agusan del Sur in December 2018, although there is evidence proving that she was in another part of the country on that day.

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[Statement] National and International NGOs urge Human Rights Council to respond credibly to damning OHCHR report on the Philippines

ORAL STATEMENT

HRC45 – Item 4: General Debate

25 September 2020

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL NGOS URGE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO RESPOND CREDIBLY TO DAMNING OHCHR REPORT ON THE PHILIPPINES

UN Human Rights Council

Forty-fifth session

14 September – 7 October 2020

 

Madam President,

 

I speak on behalf of 35 organisations, deeply concerned by the situation in the Philippines. We urge this Council to respond credibly to the grave findings and recommendations of the recent OHCHR report.

Developments since that report indicate further deterioration, with ongoing incitement to kill by the President, the promotion of an architect of the anti-drug strategy to police chief, the passing of an overbroad anti-terror law ripe for abuse, the conviction of journalist Maria Ressa and shutdown of media network ABS-CBN, the murder of activists and a journalist and a new spike in police killings.

In terms of cooperation, the Philippines refused access to OHCHR in the preparation of the report and continues to bar entry to Special Procedures. The Secretary-General and High Commissioner have raised significant concerns over reprisals. The Government does not acknowledge widespread and systematic killings as a problem, in fact it encourages them and rejects the OHCHR’s findings. Serious violations continue.

The Government’s announced Inter-Agency Panel lacks any transparency and directly involves branches of Government implicated in these abuses. As such, it clearly cannot satisfy international standards of independence,[1]nor can it be seen as credible or safe for victims to engage with.

Madam President,

Our organisations have urged and continue to urge this Council to launch an independent international investigation.

The High Commissioner has clearly asked the Council to renew her mandate to monitor and report on the wider situation, as well as to provide technical cooperation to “implement the report’s recommendations,” and “continue to pursue accountability”. We urge this Council – at absolute minimum – to ensure continued monitoring and reporting on all aspects of the situation as clearly recommended by the High Commissioner. Anything less would not only be an insult to victims and their families, but send a green light to perpetrators that they can continue with impunity, with disastrous consequences on the ground.

Thank you.

 

Co-signatories:

– Action Network Human Rights Philippines (AMP)

– Amnesty International

– Article 19

– Child Alert Mindanao

– Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC)

– CIVICUS Alliance

– Coalition Against Summary Executions

– Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)

– Franciscans International

– Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception

– Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG)

– Freedom House

– Harm Reduction International

– Human Rights Watch

– In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)

– International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)

– International Commission of Jurists

– International Drug Policy Consortium

– International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

– International Service for Human Rights

– Karapatan Alliance Philippines

– Medical Action Group

– National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

– Network Against Killings in the Philippines (NakPhil)

– Partnership Mission for People’s Initiatives (PMPI)

– Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)

– Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)

– Philippine Human Rights Information Center

– Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns

– Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund (SCLF)

– Tambayan

– The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

– Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

– World Council of Churches

– World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

[1] See for instance the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1989/65 of 24 May 1989; and Human Rights Committee, General Comment no. 36 on the right to life (article 6).

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[Off-the-shelf] Philippines: New report reveals deliberate killings of children during “war on drugs”- by OMCT and CLRDC, Philippines

Philippines: New report reveals deliberate killings of children during “war on drugs”

Geneva (OMCT) – A new report, published today, documents 122 killings of children, from 1 to 17 years old, throughout the Philippines, between July 2016 and December 2019. The report, titled “How could they do this to my child?”, jointly published by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC, Philippines), shows that the majority of the killings were carried out by police forces or affiliates.

The report is based on information directly collected from the locations where the children were killed, including interviews with local authorities, families and witnesses, and the examination of official documents related to each case. It identifies clear patterns for the killings, including the direct targeting of victims; killings of children as proxies when the real targets could not be found; as a result of mistaken identities; and as so-called “collateral damage”. The report details six cases, with the youngest victim a 20-month old girl.

In one particularly horrific case, a 7-year old boy was killed in cold blood because he had witnessed the murder of an adult by a member of the local authorities. The killings continue, with at least seven children killed from January to March 2020.

“These revelations must be a wake-up call for the international community, who has been largely absent as the Philippine government has kept trampling human rights”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary-General. “Over the past four years, we have hardly seen any meaningful reaction to the wanton killing of thousands of people under the pretext of the “war on drugs”, the targeting of the poorest and most marginalized citizens of the Philippines, and the persecution of human rights defenders, many of whom are in prison for their legitimate work. It is the total lack of accountability that feeds the cycle of violence, including the war on children we are witnessing.”

It is estimated that the total number of extrajudicial killings in the framework of the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign may run as high as 27,000. Only in one case did the policemen involved get convicted.

This impunity, and the fact that most victims are poor and vulnerable, further increase a climate of terror created by the “war on drugs”. Practically all the families and witnesses interviewed for this report have asked to remain anonymous. Many of them did not file a case for the murder of their child, fearing retaliation. With parents often too afraid to testify, even anonymously, it is likely that the actual numbers of children killed are higher than the 122 documented in the report.

As the United Nations Human Rights Council is about to examine the record of the Philippines, the report sets out detailed recommendations, including for the creation of an independent commission of inquiry into human rights violations in the Philippines, with a special focus on children.

Full access to the report.

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) is the main global coalition of NGOs fighting torture and ill-treatment, with 200 members in more than 90 countries. Its international secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC) is the leading child rights organisation in the Philippines.

Media Contact: Iolanda Jaquemet, ij@omct.org, mobile +41 79 539 41 06

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[Joint Statement] On disproportionate impact Covid-19 is having on women -OMCT and PAHRA

Geneva and Manila, 02 June 2020 – The members of the Women and Torture Working Group, a joint regional initiative of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Philippines Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), express concern over the disproportionate impact Covid-19 is having on women. The social, political, and economic sectors, in which women already face inequalities, have all been adversely affected by the pandemic.
In many countries, families share limited rooms, and homes have become particularly crowded spaces that exacerbate risks of increased domestic violence. In Bangladesh, a phone survey conducted by civil society organizations in April revealed that at least 1672 women experienced their first incidents of domestic violence during the lockdown.
Judicial, police and health services, which often provide limited assistance to victims of gender-based violence even under normal circumstances, have now shifted their priorities as a result of the pandemic or are finding themselves unable to help. In several countries, such as Sri Lanka and Nepal, the police have repeatedly refused to register domestic violence complaints.
Nepal is also one of several Asian countries where fewer cases of domestic violence are being reported under lockdown. Rather than an actual decrease in the commission of violence, this is a reflection of women’s inability to access help and report incidents under gender-blind lockdown measures. Abusers are exploiting women’s inability to escape or obtain help, and civil society actors can no longer access victims. This creates significant challenges in the collection of accurate data.
In most countries, the pandemic shines a light on already inadequate systems of protection and assistance for victims of gender-based violence. Covid-19 has merely exposed these existing gaps and vulnerabilities across the region. In the Philippines for example, there is no national hotline that specifically caters to women victims of domestic violence. The dramatic increase of violence against women is often linked to the inability of national institutions to adequately address this issue. In most countries, women were already frequently reluctant to report torture and other forms of violence, including domestic violence, and refrain from seeking justice.
In light of the above, the members of the Women and Torture Working Group call on governments in Asia to:
§  Design and implement a gender-sensitive response to the pandemic and guarantee the right of women to live free from torture and other ill-treatment. The pandemic requires national authorities to acknowledge the differential impact of Covid-19 on women and to implement rigorous measures that respond to the increase of gender-based violence.
§  Prioritize and integrate measures providing support to women victims of violence in national response plans to Covid-19. Measures include, but are not limited to:
o   Ensuring that all services of assistance for women victims of gender-based violence be considered essential services during the pandemic, and therefore remain accessible;
o   Addressing pre-existing gaps in gender-based violence response frameworks by developing all necessary services to ensure the protection of women;
o   Guaranteeing that shelters remain open and receive the resources necessary to adapt to quarantine needs;
o   Designating safe spaces for women to report incidents of abuse, such as in pharmacies, and ensuring that employees of such safe spaces are provided with a clear protocol to follow in these situations;
o   Adapting services to the pandemic situation by, for instance, moving assistance online;
o   Strengthening advocacy and communication campaigns about gender-based violence, including those targeting men. For instance, the hashtag #AntiDomesticViolenceDuringEpidemic has proven useful in China.
§  Guarantee women’s access to justice within the context of the pandemic, through measures that take into account current challenges as well as travel restrictions.
§  Guarantee the immediate release of women human rights activists and political prisoners and ensure that they are not subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in custody.
§  Guarantee that women take an active and meaningful part in decision-making processes related to the pandemic and its aftermath.
                                                                                          
In times of emergency, violence against women increases. Covid-19 is no different. Political leaders in Asia have now an opportunity to demonstrate that this cycle can be broken. We call on governments to abide by international standards and ensure that women live free of torture and other ill-treatment, including gender-based violence.
Signatories
Members of the Women and Torture Working Group
·       Cristina Sevilla, Phillippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Philippines
·       Muna Baig, Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) and National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Pakistan
·       Habibun Nessa, Naripokkho, India
·       Prachi Lohia, Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal (MASUM), India
·       Roshani Giri, Advocacy Forum, Nepal
·       Sayed Hussain Anosh, Civil Society & Human Rights Network (CSHRN), Afghanistan
·       Semkidmaa Choijil, Psychological Responsiveness NGO, Mongolia
·       Shreen Saroor, Women’s Action Network / Mannar Women’s Development Federation Muslim Women Development Trust, Sri Lanka
·       Sopheap Chak, Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodia
·       World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Switzerland

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[Off-the-shelf] BUILDING OUR RESPONSE ON COVID-19 AND DETENTION -OMCT Guidance brief to the SOS-Torture Network and partner organizations

BUILDING OUR RESPONSE ON COVID-19 AND DETENTION
OMCT Guidance brief to the SOS-Torture Network and partner organizations

This brief intends to provide evidence-based support and good practices for the protection of one of the most vulnerable groups of individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak: those deprived of liberty. It is addressed to members of the global SOS -Torture Network but may be used by any organization acting on people in custody.

It aims to inform advocacy, legal actions, other forms of support or dialogue with authorities, detention or penitentiary services, the media or the public on the protection of detainees in the present crisis. It focuses on the situation of those behind bars, detained and deprived of liberty. It also addresses the emerging issue of ill-treatment and criminalization of those breaking confinement rules.

The document is built on experiences of SOS-Torture Network members and core partner organizations of the OMCT, who act to protect detainees, seek their release, provide
physical and mental protection, legal support or mitigate the impact on the confinement, and who monitor human rights violations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We hope that this information can help and encourage others who are facing similar challenges, as both the virus and confinement response are spreading further from
country to country and from region to region.

The brief is not a collection of legal human rights standards, though it is informed by law. It is focused on those formally deprived of liberty while recognizing that there may
be other situations requiring similar actions, such as those in migration camps. It is in no way an exhaustive list of all relevant detention issues and does not cover all detention realities, which often differ even within the same country. Instead, the note touches on key items that have been at the forefront of SOS-Torture Network advocacy. More detailed policy papers and recommendations by international partners are annexed.

BUILDING OUR RESPONSE ON COVID-19 AND DETENTION
OMCT Guidance brief to the SOS-Torture Network and partner organizations omct_covid19_prisonsresponse_en

https://www.omct.org/monitoring-protection-mechanisms/reports-and-publications/2020/04/d25784/

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[Statement] Dignity in the time of COVID-19 -OMCT

The world appears to be no longer the way we knew it.

Unprecedented emergency measures are enacted. Countrywide lockdowns are imposed to protect public health and safety. Borders are closed.

The OMCT and its global SOS-Torture Network support and demand effective measures to protect public health and safety, including for those most vulnerable. Health systems need to be accessible to all and provide the necessary care for all people in need. Safety and health policies are dictated by the very respect for human dignity that is at the core of our mandate: the struggle against torture.

At the OMCT, we are committed to supporting preventive measures and physical distancing. Since Monday, all our staff has been teleworking with our Geneva, Brussels, and Tunisia, with our offices closed. We are replacing meetings with online formats and working on innovative ways to support our global network in its fight against torture.

While we are changing our way of working, we continue to support our members in their struggle for human dignity and to protect people from torture and other abuse. The world may appear to be no longer the way we knew it, but the rights of every person are inalienable. Our inherent rights as human beings are not swept away by a pandemic. International human rights law was crafted by States to also accommodate crises like this one. It remains intact and applicable as a guide for any government.

While supporting robust public safety measures, the OMCT will scrutinize and take a strong stance on the situation of vulnerable groups:

Preventing mass infections in detention

The risk of coronavirus infections in the global prison population and governments’ inaction to protect detainees and prison staff alike are alarming. Detention conditions around the world are already precarious, often characterized by serious overcrowding, lack of hygiene, and poor access to health services. Closing access to prisons cannot be the sole solution and needs to be compensated by alternative communication methods inside and outside prisons. Protection against abuse must be maintained in prisons. Social or physical distancing is a concept that is not workable without an ad hoc and a significant reduction of the prison population. Massive coronavirus infections in prison will have disastrous effects. Taking decisive action now will also mean protecting those who work in the penitentiary service. States can simply not afford to ignore this matter. They have to act now.

Preserving our dignity and that of migrants and refugees

The same precarity applies today in many camps for migrants and refugees, including in the Mediterranean. The OMCT calls on States to take their responsibilities towards this, particularly vulnerable populations. We will shed light on abuses and will denounce those States who set aside international human rights and refugee law as public attention is focusing on the COVID-19 crisis. Movement restrictions are permissible in times of crisis. Ill-treatment or throwing out the protection against deportation to torture is not.

Staying aware of the inadvertent impact of confinement

The confinement at home is an exceptional measure justified by the protection of people from harm, but it comes with considerable strain on family life and carries the inherent risks of domestic abuse and violence. States have a core responsibility to maintain a viable response to reports of domestic violence and keep support structures accessible to victims. We also need everyone’s sense of individual responsibility to speak out and respond to such situations.

Preserving our right to know and the right to defend rights

The OMCT continues to provide protection to human rights defenders. The story of the doctor castigated for alerting his community about the virus is a stark warning to those seeking now to silence dissent, free speech and space for human rights defenders to protect those most vulnerable. The legitimate protection of our health must not serve as an opportunistic pretext to muzzle those defending our rights.

At the OMCT, we are committed to contributing to new ways of working together and preserving the human dignity and the respect for the inalienability of rights that are the very foundation of our lives and of our societies.

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[Statement] PH Gov’t fails to implement Anti-Torture Law – UATC/PAHRA/OMCT

Ten years have passed since the passage of the landmark legislation prohibiting the act of torture in the Philippines. However, torture still persists in the country with total impunity.

In November 2009, the Philippines enacted the Republic Act (RA) No. 9745 otherwise known as the Anti-Torture Law which criminalizes torture and ill treatment and provides procedural safeguards of persons deprived of their liberty such as but not limited to their rights to notify relatives about the detention, to be examined by an independent medical professionals and to have prompt access to a lawyer throughout the investigation, pre-trial detention and trial. The law also guarantees that there should be no secret, unofficial or incommunicado detention where torture usually occurs. The law imposes criminal sanctions for its violations which include higher authorities for command responsibility.

The Anti-Torture Law of 2009 is regarded as a positive law criminalizing torture being the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, ten years after adoption of the Anti-Torture Law, the challenges faced by human rights organizations and survivors of torture and their relatives in seeking redress from acts of torture and ill treatment remain problematic.

Any good law is useless without its proper implementation. Many problems especially in the aspect of the criminal justice system render the law ineffective with the prolonged pre-trial detention, confessions extracted under duress, lack of prompt medical examination and access to a lawyer, reprisals and intimidation of torture survivors and witnesses; and lack of rehabilitation program for torture survivors and their families.

The investigation of torture allegations only resulted to dead end and perpetuate further the torture impunity such as the torture cases in 2010 of Darius Evangelista, Ronel Cabais, Lenin Salas et al. and in 2011, the torture case of Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, which the authorities failed to properly investigate the torture cases and prosecute effectively the alleged perpetrators. Jeremy Corre’s case remains as the only torture case filed in court and prosecuted under the Anti-Torture Law where a police officer was convicted for the act of torture.

With the war on drugs campaign of the Duterte government that have claimed more than 20,000 lives and the Martial Law in Mindanao and the ongoing anti-terrorism campaign, torture and other forms of grave human rights violations such extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are feared to continue under the climate of impunity and fear.

Today as we commemorate the 10th year of the enactment of the Anti-torture law, we, the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), the broadest network of civil society working on torture prevention in the Philippines, call on the Philippine government to comply with its state obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture and to implement the Republic Act 9745.

We specifically urge the authorities to:

• Immediately request the CHRP Chairperson to convene the Oversight Committee in charge of overseeing the Implementation of the Anti-Torture Law. Such Committee should establish a database to systematically collect information on the implementation of the Anti-Torture Law including on investigations, prosecutions, access to medical evaluations, acts of reprisals, implementation of the rehabilitation program and the submission of inventory of all detention centres and facilities under the jurisdiction of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP);

• Take measures to promote compliance with the Anti-Torture Law through education of all government agencies and, military and law enforcement units on the law and torture prevention measures;

• Adopt necessary measures to ensure that all persons who allege or otherwise show indications of having been tortured or ill-treated are offered a prompt, thorough, impartial and independent medical examination. These include but are not limited to: ensuring adequate protection of health professionals documenting torture and ill treatment from intimidation and other forms of reprisals; and ensuring that health professionals are able to examine victims independently and to maintain the confidentiality of medical records; and

• Enactment of establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) which in accordance with the Optional Protocol Against Torture (OPCAT) which the Philippines is a State Party.

We assert that torture has no place in a democratic and free society.
We insist that nothing can justify torture.
A government that allows torture is a government that has no value to human life and dignity.
We will therefore continue to defend our rights to be free from torture.

SIGNED:
United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

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[Appeal] Open Letter to the Committee on Justice of Senate of the Philippines -OMCT

Open Letter to the Committee on Justice of Senate of the Philippines
Senate President: Senator Vicente C. Sotto III,

Via email: os_sotto@yahoo.com

Geneva, 24 January 2019

Re: Minimum age of criminal responsibility must not be lowered

Dear Senator Vicente C. Sotto III,

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), the leading global network of civil society organizations against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the world, is writing to express its grave concern about the approval by the House of Representatives of the Philippines on 23 January of the amendment of the current juvenile justice law, which aims at lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old.

International human rights bodies have repeatedly encouraged the Philippines to not lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility currently set at 15 years old. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child specifically urged the Philippines to “take all necessary measures to ensure that the age of criminal responsibility is not lowered”.[1] Commenting on the previous draft Bill No. 922, rejected early 2017, which sought to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to nine years, the United Nations Committee against Torture recommended that “the age of criminal responsibility be maintained at the age of 15 years.”[2]

There is ample evidence showing that early contact with the justice system and detention of children, especially young children, leads to serious and life-long negative impacts on their mental, emotional and physical health and development.

Lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility will not reduce crime. On the contrary, research show that children in contact with the law have a higher chance of further involvement with the justice system. In addition, it is often the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children who come in contact with the justice system at a very young age. For instance, in 2018, the monitoring of holding centers of Caloocan City by the OMCT and partners showed that around 20% of children are detained because they have been rescued from the street or abusive parents. Another 30% are accused of having only committed minor offences.[3]

The approval of the proposed bill would also worsen the seriously overcrowded detention facilities throughout the Philippines, conditions which frequently amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.[4]

During prison visits, the OMCT and its partners have documented several incidents of corporal punishment of children while being apprehended and detained. This included physical and verbal abuse by staff as well as solitary confinement in small windowless cells. Visits also revealed poor sanitary installations, lack of medical services, lack of food and inadequate recreational activities [5]

Accordingly, the World Organization Against Torture respectfully urges the Senate of the Philippines:

– To maintain the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 15 years old.

– To ensure that deprivation of liberty is only used as a measure of last resort, as recommended by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

– To “Expand the use of alternative measures to deprivation of liberty, such as diversion, probation and counselling and community services”, as recommended by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

– To ensure that the fundamental rights of children in detention are respected in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In the hope that the concerns expressed in this letter will receive the attention they deserve, we remain at your disposal for any further information.

Yours sincerely,
Gerald Staberock
Secretary General
OMCT

[1] CRC/C/PHL/CO/3-4.
[2] CAT/C/PHL/CO/3.
[3] OMCT, CLRDC and PAHRA’s Follow-up Report to the Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture on the Philippines’ Third Periodic Report.
[4] According to official figures from the Commission of Audit the overcrowding of prisons has reached over 600 %.
[5] OMCT, CLRDC and PAHRA’s Follow-up Report to the Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture on the Philippines’ Third Periodic Report.

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[From the web] The war on drugs – a top priority of OMCT

Philippines: The war on drugs – a top priority of OMCT
The war on drugs among OMCT’s top priorities

Geneva, 15 March 2017 – On the occasion of the upcoming Philippines’ Universal Periodic Review on human rights by the UN, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) will this week on two occasions denounce the many violations of President Duterte’s “war on drugs” and encourage Member States to pressure him to end it.

Since Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016, more than 7,000 people – including children – have been tortured or killed in the poorest neighborhoods of the country’s capital as part of police investigations to fight against crime, corruption and insecurity – all three blamed on drug dealers and users. The perpetrators of these crimes, usually recorded as acts of self-defense acts, remain unpunished, resulting in a worrying and relentless erosion of the rule of law in the Philippines.

OMCT alongside its Philippine partner Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC) have been working in the country since 2009 to protect detained children from torture. They have observed a significant increase in cases of arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial executions of minors since Duterte’s election as President. In the first six months of his term alone, they have documented at least 30 child executions in the Manila region.

“The Philippines are not isolated. They are only the tip of the iceberg of the violation of human rights,” declared Mr. Staberock. “If we remain indifferent to what is happening, there will be no limits – the worst could happen anywhere and to anyone.”

As happens in many other countries, respect for democracy and the law is being forsaken in the name of national security. But these two can – and should – be compatible. That is OMCT’s stance, which the organization is reiterating this week during two debates on the alarming human rights situation in the country. The aim is to raise awareness among the general public and urge international actors and United Nations Member States to put pressure on the Duterte Administration.

At the UN

OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock hosted a debate on 15 March from 15:00 to 16:30 in Room XXV of Palais des Nations. It was a side event to the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which will close on 24 March.

The Philippines’ UPR will take place on 8 May this year. The last revision of the measures taken by the country by all UN Member States took place in 2012, five years ago. The Human Rights Council uses the UPR to remind States of their responsibility to protect and guarantee all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

At the FIFDH

On March 18 – closing day of the 15th edition of the Festival du film et forum international sur les droits humains (FIFDH) – OMCT will co-host alongside Délégation Genève Ville Solidaire (DGVS) a debate at 20:30 entitled “Philippines: License to Kill”. This debate will follow the screening of Tir à vue sur les dealers.

Leila de Lima, unable to attend the debate after being arrested on February 24, will be represented by her Chief of Cabinet, Philip Sawali. De Lima is Duterte’s main opponent and President of the Philippine Human Rights Commission. She was accused of setting up a drug trafficking network in a move intended to silence her, according to some observers.

OMCT, Amnesty International and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have publicly and repeatedly denounced President Duterte’s deadly policy. According to several NGOs the police, under direct orders from President Duterte (who boasts of having killed some dealers himself), could be committing crimes against humanity. The FIFDH, Amnesty International and OMCT have called for the immediate release of Leila de Lima.

UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard, who will attend the debate, has demanded President Duterte to put an end to the war on drugs. In August 2016 she asked the Philippine authorities to take all necessary measure to protect the population from executions and to decriminalize drug users.

Lastly Rosemarie Trajano, activist, director of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and member of OMCT’s General Assembly will present her view on the matter. The debate will be moderated by Chloé Rémond, an independent French journalist based in the Philippines.

OMCT brings together an international network of over 200 NGOs fighting torture and protecting human rights all over the world.

Among the activities organized from their headquarters in Geneva, Brussels and Tunis, OMCT provides medical, financial and legal assistance to torture victims as well as technical, financial and strategic assistance to anti-torture NGOs in its capacity as civil society coordinator before the UN Committee Against Torture. The organization also defends human rights and works towards the enforcement of the prohibition of torture.

Watch the films competing for the OMCT price at #FIFDH17 and tell us what you think. Follow us and be up to date of #HRC34 on @OMCTorg

Join our fight against torture on http://www.joinhat.org by sharing #HumansAgainstTorture

More information on our website: http://www.omct.org

Media contact: Lori Brumat lb@omct.org

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/statements/philippines/2017/03/d24246/

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[Statement] 26 June 2013: Torture must and can be eradicated not only in law -OMCT

26 June 2013: Torture must and can be eradicated not only in law
‘Torture must and can be eradicated not only in law’

Geneva and Vienna, 26th of June 2013.

20110524134830OMCT

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the principal global civil society coalition against torture, calls on the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture to move from legal prohibition to real enforcement.

Speaking at an event twenty years after the UN World Conference in Vienna in 1993 that had reaffirmed the absolute prohibition of torture, cruel inhuman or degrading treatment, the OMCT pointed to ‘unfinished business in the fight against torture’.

Just like twenty years ago, the OMCT receives daily information on cases of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment from across the world. Torture takes many features. It can be used as an instrument of repression such as in Syria, or is inflicted in the name of security or counter-terrorism as we witnessed over the last decade including in Western democracies. But in the large majority of cases it is used against person detained on ordinary criminal charges and disproportionally on those belonging to minorities, marginal groups or the poor.

‘In light of this the Day for Victims of Torture cannot but remind us that legal obligations are often not matched by reality. Torture like few other crimes such as slavery is absolutely prohibited under any circumstance under international law. The law is crystal clear. Yet torture continues to be practiced in most if not all regions of the world. This paradox can no longer be accepted’, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

Over the last twenty years significant progress has been made in the ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) by a majority of states and the entry into force of an innovative Optional Protocol that requires states to establish mechanisms that can visit police and prisons where people are at risk of torture. We call on states to use June 26 as a symbolic date to sign and ratify the UN Convention Against Torture and its Optional Protocol if they have not done so yet.

But ratifying conventions is meaningless if it is not matched with real enforcement and implementation. The UN Committee Against Torture, the authoritative body overseeing the implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture, provides on a regular basis vital recommendations to states to ensure compliance. These need to be made subject of broad domestic debate and lead to genuine anti-torture reforms.

In the experience of the OMCT impunity remains the rule rather than the exception. ‘Above all we have to break the tacit assumption of many officials that those who torture deserve protection because they serve the state. Should States not have double interest in prosecuting torture – not despite but because – the crime is committed in its name? Required is a sea change and prosecutors who see it as their responsibility to bring those responsible for torture to justice. If this was the case, torture could come to an end’.

The fight against torture requires strong local human rights organisations able to do their work without threats. ‘As we speak many of our members are being harassed, intimidated or threatened because of the anti-torture work they do. The example of organisations being threatened to be closed down in Russia or Egypt because of their international connection is particularly worrying’, said OMCT Secretary General.

On the occasion of the UN Day for the Victims of Torture, the OMCT and its partners are conducting a number of special events including in Austria twenty years after the Vienna World Conference. Earlier the OMCT had briefed the EU Parliament on the fight against torture in North Africa. Further events are held in Tunisia, Libya, the Philippines and Colombia in order to remind State of their obligations to respect and guarantee the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment but also remind the public at large to mobilise to denounce such practices that indeed ‘nothing can justify torture under any circumstances’.

For further information, please contact:

Gerald Staberock, Secretary-General, +41(0) 22 809 49 39, omct@omct.org

http://www.omct.org/statements/2013/06/d22290/

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[Press Release] Launch of 10 days of activism against torture -OMCT

Launch of 10 days of activism against torture

omct_logo_enGenevaSwitzerland, 1st of December 2012. On the occasion of the Human Rights Day, held on December 10th, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the leading global civil society coalition against torture, is launching 10 days of activism against torture and ill-treatment in the framework of its global campaign “Nothing can justify torture under any circumstances”.

“In the coming ten days we will highlight the role of 10 persons fighting against torture in their respective country in order to raise awareness of one of the most serious and persistent violations of rights”, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the OMCT. “These men and women stand for many examples around the world of civil society organisations and individuals working against torture often under difficult and dangerous circumstances and requiring our support”, he added.

The 10 days of activism against torture, from December 1st to December 10th, will be launched today with a Flash Mob organised in Geneva to recall the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and the importance to mobilize against this practice. The initiative aims at alerting public opinion around the world that torture and ill-treatment is a negation of human dignity that should concern us all.

“Nobody should remain indifferent before this barbaric practice”, added Anne-Laurence Lacroix, OMCT Deputy Secretary General. “Torture and ill-treatment remain a widespread practice around the world and often in places that are closer to you than you would think”, she stressed.

Therefore, from the 1st to the 10th of December, the OMCT will together with members of its global network ‘SOS torture’ introduce ten portraits of human rights defenders, coming from all parts of the globe, and their courageous struggle against torture and ill-treatment. The portraits available on a dedicated page of its website (www.omct.org) will illustrate the challenges and obstacles these women and men face, as well as the disappointment and hopes they encounter in their fight against torture. In their respective portraits, the ten human rights defenders also stress the importance of public opinion against torture demonstrating that anyone, anywhere can do something to support the global fight.

“Each and everyone of us has the possibility to take a stand against torture and ill-treatment. We invite people around the world to discover the ten portraits against torture and impunity on OMCT’s website and to take action so that the absolute prohibition of torture becomes reality” concluded Anne-Laurence Lacroix.
Contact:
Pierre-Henri Golly, Communication officer, Tel. +41 22 809 49 39
For further information, visit http://www.omct.org

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[From the web] Observatory Annual Report 2011 – Steadfast in Protest – www.omct.org

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
by www.omct.org

 Geneva-New York-Paris, October 24, 2011. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) releases today its 14th Annual Report on the situation of human rights defenders during a press conference held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

While the revolutions that took place in the Arab world in 2011 reminded the international community of the emergency to put the issue of human rights back at the top of its political agenda, utmost attention must be paid to the alerts made by human rights defenders worldwide, and no compromise must be made towards the harassment they face.

The release of the Annual Report is a key momentum of the daily activity of the Observatory. This report tells of the struggle of human rights defenders in about 70 countries – civil society activists, journalists, trade-unionists, lawyers or simple citizens “indignant” at injustice, arbitrariness, or horror.

The document highlights the universality of the claims raised by the “Arab Spring”. As pointed out by Stéphane Hessel and Aung San Suu Kyi in the foreword to the report, “everywhere, respect for human rights was at the heart of the peoples’ claims, (…) These movements did not feed on identity, religious or cultural politics, but were rather founded on the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (…)”.

“At the same time”, FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen says, “human rights defenders are more than ever at risk. As the Report is being published, the blood bath continues in Syria, in Libya and in Yemen. In Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Americas, Asia, human rights defenders are harassed, imprisoned, sometimes tortured”.

For OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock, “far from being recognised for what they are – vital protagonists for change, the guarantors of a free society – human rights defenders are, on the contrary, subjected daily to repression by regimes that are all the harsher for having understood the force and the legitimacy of their claims”. “The present report calls for stronger protection for those involved in human rights and democracy”, he concludes.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), accompanies, follows and protects human rights defenders at risk throughout the year.

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/reports-and-publications/2011/10/d21443/

[Isyung HR] Torture me not!

By Mokong and the gang

MOKONG: What is so good about the day? Well, three months na po ang HRonlinePH at sumakto naman last June 23 ay nag-No. 2 po tayo sa TopBlogsPh sa kategorya ng Politics and Governance. Yippeee! At ‘yan po ay dahil sa mga kaibigan nating patuloy na nagpapadala ng kani-kanilang mga advocacy, issues and etc. that readers find informative and useful. Wooowoot!

MOKANG: Serious ka te?

MOKONG: What is so good about the day? Isa pa, ngayong June 26 ay inaalala ng mga nakakaalam (hehehe) sa buong mundo ang International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

MOKANG: Kaya nga may BRAT. At in fairness, ika-limang BRAT na. Kala ko nga mag-ooblation run tayo against torture, ready pa naman akong ipakita ang nakaka-torture kong katawan (physical torture– hahahaha!). At kahit bumabagyo, hindi natinag ang mga runners from CSOs, CHR, AFP at PNP. Basta! Rain Against Torture.

MOKONG: What is so good about the day? It’s Sunday, pahinga at sa kabila ng Bagyo ay masarap uminom ng mainit na kape at mambuska. Hahaha.

MOKANG: Paulit-ulit unli ka te?

MOKONG: Ikaw nga ang unli e… gas-gas na ‘yang pinagsasabi mo.

MOKANG: Buskahin kaya natin ang mga nagdaang mga activities… hehehe.

MOKONG: Pwede…
Nitong nakaraang mga araw bago ang June 26 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, ilang mga activities ang isinagawa ng mga members ng United Against Torture Coalition to commemorate ang araw para sa mga torture victims ng buong week. Hehehe Araw pero Buong Week.

Even 1: NOTHING CAN JUSTIFY TORTURE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES (Pag OVER any circumstances pwede?)
Pinamunuan ng PAHRA at OMCT
Dinaluhan ng mga Government agencies, Diplomatic community at CSOs
Naganap nitong ika-22 ng Hunyo sa Imperial Palace

Photo extracted from PAHRA FB.

Philippine commitment… Talaga lang a!

May isang nagkomento na bakit daw sa Imperial Palace ginawa, e matindi daw ang hotel na ito sa violations ng rights ng kanilang mga workers.

Photo extracted from PAHRA FB

Security sectors’ “Paradigm shift.” Is it an acknowledgement that they used torture before?

Photo extracted from PAHRA FB.

CSOs in a workshop.  Spot ang tulog. Hoy gising!

Photo extracted from PAHRA FB

Piktyur-piktyur. OK tapos na… ang mga kamag-anak naman ng bride.

Photo extracted from PAHRA FB

Ok next… ang mga kamag-anak naman ng groom. O magready na ang mga friends ng Bride next na kayo.

Teka-teka! Bakit isa lang ang nakatingin sa kamera? 🙂

Event 2: BRAT V – Basta! Rain Against Torture este Basta! Run Against Torture V
Pinangunahan ng UATC, CHR, AFP at PNP. (Kung silang lahat ang nanguna sino pang sumunod?)
Tumakbo mula sa DILG sa gitna ng bagyo papuntang CHR (Para magsumbong. Joke 🙂 ).

Photo extracted from MAG FB

Hoy oo ikaw! Ikaw na walang malay. Ikaw nga ang walang solidarity against torture. Ikaw na nakapayong, wala kang pakisama ayaw mong mabasa. 🙂

Photo extracted from MAG FB

Parang napilitan lang a. Hehehe! Ikaw ba naman ang mababad sa ulan. Obey first before you complain. Hahaha! 🙂

Extracted from MAG FB

Bakit parang ang ibig sabihin nito ay hindi libre ang mangtortyur? Ano pwede basta may bayad? Hahaha! 🙂

Photo extracted from MAG FB

Contingent ng Philippine Air-Force. Latest addition sa participants ng BRAT. Woowoot!

Nang tanungin bakit ngayon lang sumama, ang sagot nila kasi dapat daw ay Basta! Lipad Against Torture ang title ng event (‘wag na pong i-accronym baka bastos ang dating 🙂 ).

Extracted from MAG FB

Contingent from Philippine Navy. Latest addition din sa participants ng BRAT. Yahooo yahooo!

Nang tanungin din kung bakit ngayon lang sila sumama. Sabi nila ay inaabangan daw kasi nila ang BASTA! Langoy Against Torture. Hahahaha! 🙂

Extracted from MAG FB

“Im a Soldier and a Human Rights advocate.” YES! Approve kami sa ‘yo kuya. Sana lang ganyan din lahat ng sundalo and hindi lang sa T-shirt a, pati sa gawa. Soldiers! Respect and Protect Human Rights!

Extracted from MAG FB

Truth behind sa Pinakamagandang shot na ito,

a. Professional ang photographer

b. Artistic ang may hawak ng kamera

c. Autistic ang may hawak ng kamera

d. Nadulas lang ang may hawak ng kamera

e. none of the above. ako lang kasi ang nagandahan sa kuhang ito.

Extracted from MAH FB

Piktyur-piktyur! Para talagang ibig sabihin ay hindi libre ang mangtortyur, na pag may bayad pwede.

Mokang: Paulit-ulit. Unli ka te?

A pag nagtortyur ka kelangan mo magbayad… sa kulungan.

Mokang: Slow ka te?

Extracted from MAG FB

Piktyur-piktyur! Ano ba? seryoso muna mamaya na ang wacky.

Hanggang dito na lang muna. Hanggang sa sunod na Linggo, ito po ang inyong Mokong at Mokang na lingkod na nagsasabing “All MOkongs and MOkangs of the world unite. We hav nothing to looose coz we hav nothing at all.”

[Event] Nothing can justify torture under any circumstances! With the OMCT, sign the Manifesto!

Nothing can justify torture under any circumstances! With the OMCT, sign the Manifesto!
http://www.omct.org/international-campaigns/campaign-prohibition-torture/#campaign_signing_form

Dear Friends,

For your information, a two-persons team has arrived at the OMCT to work on the forthcoming 26th of June “International day in supports of victims of torture”. Sarah Petitpierre and Cécile Aubert will coordinate the communication for the event. They will also help us spread the Manifesto and collect signatures for our International Campaign for the Absolute Prohibition of Torture and Ill-treatment.

We also would like to inform you that, following the recent mailing regarding the Manifesto and the International Day of June 26, 2011, we shall enter into contact with you in the near future either by E-mail or by phone in order to reflect together on these issues.

For your information, we organized our work this way:

Cécile Aubert:                        Americas, Europe –   ca@omct.org
Sarah Petitpierre:                  Africa, Asia –              sp@omct@org

Concerning the 26th of June 2011 day (events organized around the 26th of June 2011):

At this stage, we offer communication support for each member of the network and for active organizations regarding their planned 26th of June 2011 day events.

Should you decide to organize a special action, we shall be delighted to proceed with/for you. Practically speaking, we plan to create on our website  (http://www.omct.org/fr/) a special page regarding the 26th of June and to give it a visual priority.

All organisations having organized an event and willing to participate will be presented to the public, indicating their website, following their agreement.

Such a process will not only increase visibility to your projects but also to your organization.

Also, being on Facebook, we also plan to use this vast network to do the same (special page on the 26th of June, presentation of the events, organizations, websites), here again to allow increasing visibility of your projects.

Regarding the Manifesto “International Campaign for the Absolute Prohibition of Torture and Ill-treatment”: our goal is to increase the number of signatures collected!

1. Sensitization by E-mail

As for the collection of signatures for the Manifesto, we have developed an awareness action by e-mail, with the sentence and the link that you’ll find at the top right side of the current e-mail, to enable all our interlocutors, with some “clicks”, to sign the Manifesto for an absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and to spread it.

We propose the OMCT’s network members to do the same, with the idea to spread this campaign and to accelerate the collection of signatures. Indeed, we believe that it is by increasing, spreading and multiplying the number of signatures that we can demonstrate, as members of the worldwide civil society the importance to this important movement.

We propose, should you consider it relevant and appropriate for your organization, to systematically include that sentence and the link regarding the campaign in all e-mails sent in the appropriate language (we have prepared 3 models, French, English and Spanish). I’ll include them below so that you may consider it an interesting approach to implement it within your organization, among your colleagues, your network. Unfortunately, we do not have for the moment the proper support for other languages.

French

Nulle circonstance ne permet de tolérer la torture! Avec l’OMCT, signez le Manifeste!

http://www.omct.org/fr/international-campaigns/campaign-prohibition-torture/#campaign_signing_form

English
Nothing can justify torture under any circumstances! With the OMCT, sign the Manifesto!

http://www.omct.org/international-campaigns/campaign-prohibition-torture/#campaign_signing_form

Spanish

Ninguna circunstancia permite tolerar la tortura! Con la OMCT, firme el Manifiesto!

http://www.omct.org/es/international-campaigns/campaign-prohibition-torture/#campaign_signing_form

The advantage of this approach we believe is to allow increasingly worldwide awareness regarding the campaign and its urgency. It also allows an easy and efficient way to collect signatures.

Moreover, it is absolutely free, requiring only few clicks to sign, along with high level persons such as Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, Rigoberta Menchu, Jose Ramos-Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Joseph Stiglitz, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter, among others.

NB: For your information, it is generally not necessary to translate the Manifesto. You’ll find at the bottom of the form to fill online, at the right side of the document, a space named “language” that will translate the text in the language of your choice. The translation service being computerized, may perhaps not be ideal, but it allows a very general public to understand both the text of the manifesto and how/where to fill the form.

2. Possibility to check the evolution by country

As you’ll see also when visiting the page, it is possible to observe trends in harvesting signatures by country, which may be a good tool, and hopefully in the future, an argument in order to approach the concerned authorities, for a positive evolution of the situation.

3. What about to copy / paste the link of the Campaign on your site?

Should you support the Campaign, it is also possible to add the link of the Campaign on your website. To proceed, just copy and paste the appropriate link, thereby encouraging visitors to click and sign online. In English, the link is the following:

Nothing can justify torture under any circumstances! With the OMCT, sign the Manifesto!

http://www.omct.org/international-campaigns/campaign-prohibition-torture/#campaign_signing_form

We also would like to draw you attention to the fact that this campaign is an international campaign. We think it deserves to be centralized to allow a same speech, and a common position on all sides of the world. Therefore, to allow an objective view of the situation, if this campaign interests you, we kindly suggest you use the tool and the links we made available, with translation tools online.

Hoping that these few suggestions might interest you, we stay of course at your disposal to discuss these proposals. I’d be delighted to contact you during next week should this suits you.

Looking forward to talking to you soon. With our most sincere and respectful regards.

Sarah Petitpierre / Cécile Aubert
OMCT-World Organization Against Torture
International Secretariat
Communication Officers
Campaign 26 June 2011

tel.: +41 (0) 22 809 49 21 (Wed-Thu-Fri: 10.30 am – 14.30 pm)
E-mail: sp@omct.org   ca@omct.org
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