Tag Archives: Rehabilitation

[Right-up] Drug rehab patients in collaboration with artist Ralph Eya speaks out their “hatol” through a public art installation

Photo fro Ralph Eya

Drug rehab patients in collaboration with artist Ralph Eya speaks out their “hatol” through a public art installation

HATOL public art installation presents the consummation of the 3-day Visual Arts Therapy program of the Department of Health Treatment and Rehabilitation Center Bicutan. The socially engaged art project intended to contribute to the personal development of the surrendered drug dependents through the art workshop and production 5K: Katauhan-Kakayanan-Kapwa-Karanasan-Karapatan. About 30 participating artists from Camp Bagong Diwa DOH-TRC and Ralph Eya underwent a creative process of undefining, defining, and redefining consciousness about identity, capacity, community, and the universality of our human rights and our experiences. The collaborative site-specific art installation piece examines the concept of “hatol” in the context of the drug war in the Philippines. Amidst the judgment we face every single day, may it be simply through social media communication or violently through extrajudicial executions, how do we exist in between charges and chances? Do we just declare another statement? Or do we fight to express and progress our humanness?

Photo from Ralph Eya

Bagong Diwa: Undefine, Define, Redefine

Disconcertingly comparable with the marks left in a crime scene, traced and drawn from the dead bodies killed from the drug war in the streets of Manila and the rest of the country, we recreated body maps. Contrary to how we usually perceive these marks, body map or body mapping is an artistic therapeutic process that enables us to create and explore our “katauhan” with all the elements and stories that goes with it. The outline of the human figure is formed directly from the physical self, creating a life-size depiction of the body. Body mapping aims to map out the whole self and our natural “kakayanan.” A body map is not a mark of death, it is a mark of an identity.

We do not eliminate identity, we create identity. We undefine marks.

Marks, either from physiological or emotional experience becomes a part of an individual. After six months, or sometimes more, the challenge goes beyond rehabilitation. The released drug dependents face public judgment and repeat accusations, they live a life defined by stigma. Stigma that emanates from lack of empathy. If we can only be more emphatic towards each other, deepen our understanding about each other’s experiences, we nurture relationships and we invite an environment of dialogue.

Dialogue, verbally or visually can be a form in which we can all be involved. And truthful dialogue comes with an open mind for our “kapwa” Together, we can find our common ground and recognize our interrelated “karanasan”. What defines who we are and who others are is our shared experiences and our relationship with each other.

We do not eliminate each other, we support each other. We define our common experience.

Our experiences continue to be challenged every day. Every word is an allegation. Every act is a judgment. Every moment is a charge. In these trying times, if we all become what this system wants us to become, to be heartless human beings incapable of love, hope, and mutual trust, to be incapable of respecting each other’s right to life, then the so called change has seemingly come. And if this change is truthful, charge us with what we truly deserve. Charge us with our “karapatan”. Charge us with human rights.

Charge us with education. Charge us with inclusion. Charge us with genuine social transformation.

For what is in every HATOL: Between Charges and Chances is every human life.

– Ralph Eya

Photo from Ralph Eya


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[Off-the-shelf] Torture and the Right to Rehabilitation in the Philippines -IRCT

Torture and the Right to Rehabilitation in Philippines

Torture and rehab in the PH copySince the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act (Republic Act No. 9745) in 2009,
the Philippine government has taken significant steps towards improving the
legal structural framework for eradicating torture and supporting torture
victims. This includes the elaboration of a rehabilitation programme for victims
of torture and the establishment of a body to oversee the implementation
of all aspects of the Anti-Torture Act. Regrettably, very few of these promises
have become reality for rights holders on the ground.

The government security forces continue to obstruct identification of alleged
perpetrators among its ranks. Warrants of arrest of ranking army officers and
soldiers have not been served, which impedes the effective prosecution of
torturers and the government has neglected to investigate and pursue command
responsibility, which can be a strong tool against such obstruction. Despite the
filing of many well-documented torture cases, it was only in April 2016 that
the first perpetrator was convicted when police officer Jerick Dee Jimenez was
sentenced to a maximum of two years and one month imprisonment by a court
in Pampanga for the torture of Jerryme Corre. The court demanded that the
officer pay Jerryme Corre damages amounting to 100,000 pesos (approximately
USD $2,173). Another police officer faces the same charges but remains at large.

There have been significant technical challenges in translating the law into reality
at the local level. These partly relate to the devolved system of government in the
Philippines but also reflect problems with the lack of clearly defined ownership of
implementation of different aspects of the law and grossly insufficient budgetary
provisions. As an example, the rehabilitation programme for victims, which is a
model for global promising practice, has seen almost no actual implementation
at the local level. Most initiatives to implement this and other aspects of the law
are driven by NGOs and paid for by international donors.

For victims, pursuing justice is an uphill battle where lack of access to proper
evidence collection and strict evidentiary requirements on the victims to prove
what happened and who did it discourages their search for official recognition
of the wrongs done to them.

All of these challenges are compounded by the lack of effective oversight and
steering of the implementation of the law. The Oversight Committee headed
by the Commission on Human Rights that is designated to do this is still
to commence its function despite repeated calls from NGOs to get started.

During the past six years, the Philippines have enjoyed a political environment
that was, at least in rhetoric, favourable to the protection of human rights.
With the election of Rodrigo Duterte as the next President, the country is moving
into very different territory and it will be crucial to ensure that the state
institutions that are meant to guarantee the rights of individuals perform
their function effectively.

Click to read and download report PHILIPPINES REPORT

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[Blog] 10 Human Rights Issues ng 2014 –No. 10 Climate Justice Campaign, Yolanda, Rehabilitation etc. -Mokong Perspektib

10 Human Rights Issues ng 2014 –No. 10 Climate Justice Campaign, Yolanda, Rehabilitation etc..

10 HR issue 2014 copyMakikiuso lang ang inyong mokong na lingkod sa paglalabas ng mala-year-ender post. Sinubukan kong i-wrap-up ang mga kaganapan ng buong taon. Isang #Throwback series ng mga isyu ng nagdaang taon batay sa hits na tinanggap mula sa mga mambabasa ng HRonlinePH.com.

profile copy

Nitong nakaraang ika-1 ng Disyembre ay pinarangalan ang mga pinakatinangkilik na kampanya na inilathala sa HRonlinePH.com sa pamamagitan ika-apat na “Human Rights Pinduteros Choice Awards” na ginanap sa Conspiracy Bar and Garden Café sa Quezon City.

Bagamat pinutakti ng napakaraming isyu ang 2014, ang ating pagtutuunan ng pansin ay ang 10 lamang na ang batayan ay ang hits na nakuha sa HRonlinePH.com stats ng wordpress. At tumatalakay sa human rights.

No.10- Climate Justice Campaign, Yolanda, Rehabilitation etc.

Hindi nakamove-on ang isang ito na nuong 2013 pa ay sing-init na ng bulkang Mayon na parang anumang oras ay puputok. Hustisya sa Klima-karapatang pantao.

Niyanig ang ating bansa ni Yolanda, kaya naman maging ang lahat ng isyu ay dumulo sa huling buwan ng 2013 sa panawagan para sa hustisya at tulong para sa laksa-laksang nabiktima.

Read full article @mokongperspektib.wordpress.com

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[Press Release] Human Rights Day 2014: Psychosocial Support in focus with launch of Report-IRCT

Human Rights Day 2014: Psychosocial Support in focus with launch of Report

To mark this year’s Human Rights Day, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) together with the Medical Action Group (MAG) has launched the report ‘In Pursuit of Justice’, casting a light on psychosocial support for victims of torture in legal proceedings.


Psychosocial Support for victims of torture in the pursuit of justice is a key area within rehabilitation.

Fear of reprisals and re-traumatisation, no belief in the justice system and fear of stigmatisation from community or family members are some of the factors dissuading victims of torture from participating in legal proceedings against their perpetrators.

In addition, a trial is often an emotionally painful process during which the torture victim will require constant support from health and legal professionals to prevent re-traumatisation.

However, despite the potentially positive impact, the issue currently receives little attention. In general there is a lack of awareness of the degree to which torture can affect a victim’s testimony and therefore the impact that participation in legal proceedings can have on the victim’s psychological well-being.

By offering victims of torture specialised psychosocial support and access to justice programmes, centres can help them overcome the psychological burden of a trial, and also enhance the therapeutic impact of justice on the individual’s rehabilitation.

“On this Human Rights Day, the IRCT puts the spotlight on a critical yet neglected area within the fight against impunity and rehabilitation itself. The positive effects of psychosocial support to victims of torture in legal proceedings and to the fight against impunity cannot be ignored,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, IRCT Secretary-General.

The report is the result of a fruitful collaboration between our organisation and the IRCT, with the valuable contribution of torture victims and the professionals working to support them.

The report is now available for download at http://www.irct.org

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[Press Release] Groups launch 8 Days of Actions in time for Yolanda Disaster Commemoration -PMCJ

1 Year of Yolanda Disaster, Stormy Year of Injustices
Groups launch 8 Days of Actions in time for Yolanda Disaster Commemoration

Manila, Philippines – In the lead up to the first year commemoration of the Yolanda disaster, the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), with its members and allies, comes up with its assessment on government’s handling of the Yolanda disaster, from preparation, response and rehabilitation.


“From the very start, the Aquino Administration has failed miserably! By saying that it is ‘under control’ which is contrary to its government’s level of preparedness was, in a way, already a death wish to all who perished when Yolanda struck Central Visayas. To sum up, the Aquino government was over-confidently, inappropriately prepared.” Gerry Arances, National Coordinator of PMCJ lamented.

The groups have lined up series of actions, highlighting the many injustices that the Yolanda victims and survivors have incurred, in the lead up to November 8, 2014 commemoration.

Arances further commented on the state of rehabilitation efforts that “After one
year, without a clear people-centered rehabilitation plan, tens of thousands still leaving in tents and bunkhouses, no substantial economic activities and sustainable jobs, among others, we can fairly say that what the government has done is that it has added more insult to injury to our kababayans who have suffered the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda and is still continuously suffering the ineptness of this government.”

According to the assessment of groups affiliated to PMCJ on the one year Yolanda response, there are eight (8) injustices that the people of Central Visayas and other Yolanda-affected areas had to bear for the past year.

The government is also accountable for not only neglecting the people and the rehabilitation efforts by passing its obligations so easily to the private sector but also for encouraging further the degradation of the environment in these affected areas. “One concrete example of government’s neglect is when it continued to push for extractive projects in the devastated areas instead of protecting the natural resources of the country and preventing the worsening of climate change impacts and disasters. Instead of making sure that rehabilitation efforts are on the way, the government agencies and local government units ensured that mining operations continues in mineral rich areas in Samar and Leyte.” asserted Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and a
member of the Coordinating Committee of PMCJ.

According to ATM, In Manicani Is., Eastern Samar, it was Sec. Panfilo Lacson of the Presidential Assistance for Recovery and Reconstruction (PARR) himself, through an official letter to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, gave a go signal to the continuation of mining operations in the Island in the guise of pursuing rehabilitation efforts.

Another major problem with the rehabilitation plans as planned by the government was its imposition of a blanket policy regarding the, “40-meter no build zone” in Yolanda-affected areas, including the coast of Tacloban City. “The government imposed the policy without coming up with a clear guidelines and thorough consultation with the communities. We understand the need to transfer them to safer sites, however, if there are no additional supports from government and provision oflivelihood, this policy will be rendered ineffective because it will endanger the people further. Also, reports have reached us that the government is saving those premium lands from the coast to big corporations for tourism and commercial purposes. If this is true, then it is a clear violation of the people’s right to decent housing and access to livelihood in case of our fisherfolk kababayans.” said Pascualito Ilagan, PMCJ Eastern Visayas and President of Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Samar-Leyte Chapter.

Indigenous Peoples communities are troubled as well. “The commitment of the government was building back better. a year after Yolanda, did Indigenous women’s access to basic services improved? No! They remained isolated and excluded and are even pushed to a much worst situation of struggling every single day to ensure that there is food on their tables.” said Cheryl Polutan, Campaigner of Purple Action for Indigenous Womens Rights (LILAK)

The one-year assessment of PMCJ has enumerated eight injustices: 1) lack of government accountability 2) corporate capture versus a people-centered rehabilitation; 3) ineffective policies and lack of implementation of climate change laws and mandates; 4) loan-driven rehabilitation effort; 5) prioritization of dirty and harmful energy; 6) massive dislocation policy – no build zone policy; 7) lack of incorporation of sustainable development principles and addressing inequality; 8) inadequacy of international response.

The injustices, as exposed by PMCJ and its members, also include the inadequacy of international response and the Aquino government’s failure to lead in this arena. PMCJ also points out in its assessment the message that the Aquino administration raised during his speech in United Nations Climate Summit in New York and the failure of developed countries’ response to the lessons of Yolanda disaster.

“There is a need to push for all pending commitments based on responsibilities of the developed countries. We need to press for adequate climate finance under the Green Climate Fund with at least $100 Billion starting in 2020 and corresponding funds before 2020, as well as the long standing issue of radical and ambitious emissions reduction led by the developed countries that would limit the global emissions to 1 – 1.5 degrees Celsius.“ explained by Manjette Lopez, President of Sanlakas and head of Emissions Cuts Working Group of PMCJ.

PMCJ is asserting that one of the lessons of the Yolanda disaster is that we need to also address the loss and damages that countries like the Philippines are incurring due to the increasing impacts of climate change. Aside from Adaptation needs, or the measures to adopt to the changes brought about by climate change, a Loss and Damage international mechanism has to be set up immediately and that corresponding funds has to be put in place based on responsibilities of the developed countries.

Lopez added that “Pres. Nonoy, during his speech in the New York Summit, left these needs of the country unsaid and he lend the culprits of the climate crisis – the developed countries and their big corporations – not accountable and off the hook.”

Part of the eight days of action for the Yolanda disaster 1 year commemoration, a People’s Caravan for Climate Justice will be organized around the offices of the developed countries, including the US and EU offices, who are accountable for the climate crisis.

“In honoring our dead kababayans due to the Yolanda disaster, those that have been orphaned, as well as those who continuously suffer the ineptness of the Aquino Administration, we need not only learn from this, we also need to exact accountability. Let this 1 year commemoration of the Yolanda disaster be the start of a movement that will exact accountability to those that have neglected the need of our kababayans in the face of increasing wrath brought about by climate change.

Justice to all those devastated by Yolanda disaster and the ineptness the Aquino government! Climate Justice Now!“ Arances concluded.

Phone: +63.2.433.0954
Website: http://www.climatejustice.ph |Email Address: pmcj2012.sec@gmail.com

OCTOBER 29, 2014

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[Blog] Torture Rehabilitation should be victim-centered. By Darwin Mendiola

Torture Rehabilitation should be victim-centered
By Darwin Mendiola


For human rights advocates, rehabilitation of torture victims is understood as both a right of the victims and a state obligation. It should play an important role in the broader agenda of achieving justice and respect for human rights.

Darwin 2

It must be viewed holistically as it goes beyond physical and psychological care and extend to other types of services (legal, social and economic services, e.g. education, employment, housing, etc.), that enable the victims to restore life with dignity and return to life of normalcy.

However, rehabilitation is more than just responding to victims’ basic needs. It must respond to the real impact of violations in victims’ lives and at the same time, it should be given as sincere efforts on the part of the government to acknowledge the human rights violations and to provide concrete measure of justice to those whore rights have been violated.

The participation of the victims and their families in the designing and effective implementation of rehabilitation programs and services is therefore vital. This will ensure that torture rehabilitation is tailored to each victim’s needs and their particular situation while considering the effects of torture and other violations on families, communities and larger society.

Rehabilitation programs should promote individual, family and social healing, recovery and reintegration. This may include restoring cultural practices, traditions and exercising political beliefs without fear. Working only at the individual level is not enough. There is a need to consider rehabilitation beyond the individual level and to look at social dimension of rehabilitation.

In the Philippines, the passage of the RA 9745 or Anti-Torture Law on 2009 and the promulgation of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program in March 2014, did not make any significant improvement in the human rights situation.

Not only for the fact the torture continues unabated, there is still a lack of adequate rehabilitation measures for torture survivors and their families. While institutional efforts are being undertaken to give flesh and blood to this normative framework, the reality remains that rehabilitation services are not yet readily available for torture victims/survivors in many countries including the Philippines.until now, relevant government agencies still have no clear operational procedure and have no budget line for its implementation.

Read full article @dars0357.wordpress.com

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[Event] Exploring Issues of Confinement and Violence in Urban Poor Communities and Jail Settings. -Balay

Exploring Issues of Confinement and Violence in Urban Poor Communities and Jail Settings.

As part of our continued effort to deepen our knowledge and understanding about the field of violence, suffering and human rights, Balay, together with the Danish Institute against Torture (DIGNITY) and the College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines, Diliman (UP-CSWCD), will be holding a seminar entitled: Exploring Issues of Confinement and Violence in Urban Poor Communities and Jail Settings.


The seminar shall explore the themes of buryong and sacrificial violence drawn from ethnographic research among members of fraternities in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City. Using these themes, the seminar shall also attempt to explore the connection between prisons and urban poor communities to deepen our understanding about notions of confinement.

The seminar will be given by Dr. Steffen Jensen, Senior Researcher from the Danish Institute against Torture (DIGNITY). Reactors from the UP-CSWCD faculty and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are likewise present to provide their insights drawn from the seminar. Human rights organizations, concerned non-government organizations, government agencies and faculty shall be invited for the learning event.

The seminar shall be held on the 1st of April 2014, 2:00 PM, at the Audio Visual Room, College of Social Work and Community Development, Magsaysay Road, UP Diliman, Quezon City.

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[Press Release] Leyte groups: Engage people in Yolanda rehab -PM

Leyte groups: Engage people in Yolanda rehab

Informal workers associations in Leyte are asking the government to engage with people’s organizations in the planning and implementation of the Yolanda rehabilitation in the face of allegations of overpriced and substandard bunkhouses.


“Aside from the opinions of experts, the participation of the people themselves is vital in the success of the Yolanda rehab plan. Yolanda survivors should not just be passive recipients of aid but active stakeholders in the reconstruction process. We demand transparency and people’s participation,” asserted Judy Torres, chair of the Tacloban City tricycle federation and coordinator of Partido ng Manggagawa in Region 8.

Last December 30, Torres’ group held a motorcade around Tacloban of a hundred tricycles which were garbed in tarp posters with the message “Make jobs a priority in Yolanda rehab.” The motorcade signalled the launch of the campaign for decent employment, social protection and people’s participation as pillars of Yolanda rehabilitation plan. A representative of the International Labor Organization (ILO) observed and documented the campaign launch.

Torres averred that “People’s organizations can also serve as watchdogs against graft and corruption in the rehab process. Even more than the problem of temporary shelter, the input of the people is crucial in the issue of permanent housing. We insist on in-city relocation and climate-resilient socialized housing program for informal settlers.”

Some of the controversial bunkhouses are being built near Torres’ home and he does not believe they can cost almost a million each. He also attests to the fact that the contractors are not locals and even the laborers came from Mindanao.

He added that “Every cent of the USD 8.17 billion Reconstruction Assistance of Yolanda must be spent to meet the immediate and long-term needs of survivors. We also ask that locals be employed as workers with decent jobs as a guideline.”

The Tacloban tricycle federation together with drivers associations in Hilongos and Baybay, Leyte have issued a manifesto calling for decent employment to be a priority in the rehab plan. The demand echoes an ILO report that stated that more need to be done to provide decent work in the Yolanda affected areas that includes ensuring minimum wages, sound occupational safety, skills development and social protection.

“Decent jobs are a necessity since it is a guarantee to a person’s long-term security and a life of dignity” Torres argued.

Press Release
January 10, 2014
Partido ng Manggagawa
Contact Judy Torres @ 09262389963; 09482495848
Partido ng Manggagawa Coordinator for Region 8
Chairperson, Tacloban Federation of MCH Drivers and Operators (TAFEMDO)

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[Statement] New year, old woes for teachers -TDC

New year, old woes for teachers

As classes open today after more than two weeks of holiday break, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) enumerated some problems that they predict will continuously haunt public school teachers and the education sector for the coming year.


Kidnapped teacher in Zamboanga. The vicious kidnapping cycle in the South strikes again before Christmas. A young female teacher from Sibugtoc Elementary School in Zamboanga City was snatched by several armed men on December 18. The poor teacher and other colleagues were on their way to report for an event in the city proper, clearly, in line of official duty.. Kidnapping of teachers in Zamboanga Peninsula Region has been rampant in the past years, yet the government always failed to provide security or hazard pay for teachers in this and other conflict areas.

Delayed Comelec payment. The Comelec last week announced that the DBM approved their request to provide additional P300.00 honorarium for teachers who served in the board of election tellers (BET) during Barangay elections in October 28 (and November 28 in Bohol and Zamboanga City), a good sign. However, believe it or not, many teachers in some areas including the cities of Quezon, Makati and Olongapo and the devastated town of Palo in Leyte have not received their P500.00 transportation allowance until now.

Taxes on bonuses and salaries. Teachers from the provinces complained that their productivity enhancement incentive (PEI) were deducted of tax, just as the productivity based-bonus (PBB) which the allocation for 2012 only given last August 2013. Teachers were surprised that in some localities, taxes were imposed ranging from 10 to 30% of their bonus, which according to the BIR is guaranteed by the law. Another issue with the BIR is the sudden change of tax code of some teachers, specifically in Malabon City that become a heavy burden to them. In some schools for example, those that are normally being charged of tax amounting to P3, 000.00 to P4, 000.00 paid up to more than P10, 000.00 last November and December 2013. The taxman (taxwoman, actually) vowed to collect every peso entitled to the government, however, nobody is keeping an eye on where these taxes go. The year 2013 was a witness to robbery of taxpayers’ money in great scales.

No increase in salary. The government’s budget for this year has not reflected the increase in salaries for its employees. That means, the salary would maintain its 2012 status until next year and it is not even sure if the government would provide a pay increase for FY 2015. Thus, materials for the third year of implementation of K-12 will be shouldered again by teachers from their meager salaries. It is interesting to note that the DepEd does not provide for text books for the use of students and teachers in accordance with the new curriculum, instead poor mentors are expected to download e-copy of resource materials for printing and reproduction.

Situation of teachers in Yolanda-affected areas. And perhaps the greatest challenge will still be confronted by the teachers in Yolanda-hit areas. No classrooms, no electricity, no chairs and blackboards, not even chalk and erasers were spared by the monster typhoon. Teachers in the area, like all other residents will have to start from zero. Until now, they are seeking the help of the government, but while employees of other agencies have already received cash and assistance for house rebuilding, public school teachers rely on their own. Yet they are in the forefront of rehabilitation and they provide strength for the whole community especially children. The only help teachers, especially in Leyte received from the DepEd are lipsticks, make-up kits, free haircut and minimal relief packages. And worth mentioning are the loan packages from GSIS, Pag-Ibig and Provident Fund, while they said what they really need is a cash grant, if not, a tax break or moratorium of all mandated deductions in their salaries that will surely benefit them and would reduce the impact of the deluge in their families.

The TDC on Saturday has launched the Project PAG-ARAM, An initiative to raise school supplies for children and materials for teachers in Yolanda-affected areas.

Pag-aram is a Waray term which means ‘learning’ or ‘to learn’ and the project’s main objective is to provide the school needs of students and teachers in typhoon Yolanda-affected areas of Eastern Visayas, Northern Cebu, Northern Panay and Northern Palawan. The project, which will be done in close coordination with the field offices of the DepEd, aims to collect as many donations as possible from schools, students, teachers, parents, individuals and organizations.

Materials such as pens, notebooks, school bags, shoes, crayons for kids and chalk, eraser, manila paper, cartolina, markers, record book, lesson plan book and improvised blackboard for teachers collected during the first week of January will be distributed in Leyte on January 15. However, the secretariat will accept donations up to May 30, 2014.

Reference: Benjo Basas, National Chairperson 0920-5740241/ 3853437

January 6, 2014

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[From the web] Project PAG-ARAM

Project PAG-ARAM

Project PAG-ARAM

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) in coordination with other groups namely Bulig Visayas, Teachers Cooperative of Valenzuela City, Penson and Company, Inc. (P&CI) and Ating Guro Partylist has initiated the Project PAG-ARAM, An initiative to raise school supplies for children and materials for teachers in Yolanda-affected areas. The main objective of the project is to provide the school needs of students and teachers in typhoon Yolanda-affected areas of Eastern Visayas, Northern Cebu, Northern Panay and Northern Palawan. The project aims to collect as many donations as possible from schools, students, teachers, parents, individuals and organizations through the following schemes.

Needed donations. Notebooks, papers, pens, art and coloring materials, school uniforms, shoes or slippers, school bags, underwear for children. Chalk, eraser, Manila paper, cartolina, pentel pens or markers, lesson plan, record book, plywood and paint for improvised blackboard and other materials for teachers.

Adopt-a-School scheme. Schools and organizations may participate in our Adopt-a-School program by providing a recipient school in the disaster area with all the supplies and materials needed by teachers and students (for this particular donation, we will be providing the list of schools with all the details as well as the contact persons).

How to donate? Donations may be sent to our office or in any drop-off points. Schools and offices will be designated to be the drop-off points in a division or districts or cluster of municipalities. For those who wish to help in the form of cash, donations may also be deposited to bank account Teachers Cooperative of Valenzuela City, Account # 003850110952 BDO Karuhatan Branch, Valenzuela City (kindly inform Ms. Fely Matus, Treasurer at 09064078384)

The donations within the first week of January will be distributed to some schools in Leyte on January 15 to coincide with the launching of the project and the opening of classes. However, all other donations will be accepted until May 30, 2014 or before the start of school year 2014-2015.

Donors from NCR and the rest of Luzon may call our project coordinators Ms. Olive De Guzman at 0917-8167130 and Ms. Marilou Felipe at 0908-8723343. Those from Visayas and Mindanao may also send their donations to Sto. SPED Center, cor. Sto. Nino and T. Claudio Sts., Tacloban City or communicate with TDC leaders in Leyte, Ms. Cristy Diomaro-Gallano at 0939-9198894 or Ms. Mae Novilla at 0919-3584585.

For other details, interested parties may contact our hotline numbers, 3853437, 4350036, 0923-8643887 and 0998-9842737 or visit FB Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Teachers-Dignity-Coalition-TDC (to link you to Project PAG-ARAM). Initial drop-off points are the TDC and Ating guro Partylist respective offices, 117-C Matatag St., Bgy. Central, Quezon City and Door E 4012-A Corner Diam St., Gen. T. De Leon, Valenzuela City

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.

[Resources] Violence Report in Bagong Silang – Balayph.net

Violence Report in Bagong Silang


It is our pleasure to announce that the study on violence in our project site in Bagong Silang is now online. The research is a collaboration between DIGNTY/RCT and Balay. You may download the article using the link at the bottom of the page. Below is a brief introduction of the research report.

During the latter part of Marcos regime, Bagong Silang [New Birth] was established as a relocation site for the thousands of squatters about to be dislocated from their homes around metro—Manila to clear land for economic development, roads or otherwise. Some were forcibly moved to Bagong Silang, which is located far away from main economic activity. Others saw life in Bagong Silang as the possibility for a new beginning. Many of the areas from where the resettled people came were quite violent. Inter-personal violence occurred on a regular basis and crime rates were said to be high. Furthermore, state violence in different forms was also rumoured to be high, as was the violence perpetrated by land owners in order to persuade people to move from the contested land. None of these forms of violence disappeared with the establishment of Bagong Silang. From these initial days of violence, Bagong Silang has maintained a reputation of being a violent and dangerous place with high crime rates, gangs and fraternities are stable elements in the social life in Bagong Silang, as is state or state—endorsed violence, although, as we shall see, at a lower level and nature of violence in Bagong Silang and most accounts remain anecdotal or build on hearsay or stereotypes of the poor and the different. This report attempts to address this lack of knowledge. It is based on several different sets of data: a victimization survey, a database of all reports made to the local adjudicating body [Katarungang Pambarangay], interviews with residents and law enforcement agencies as well as ethnographic observations. The central part of the data set is the victimization survey, the rest of the data is used to understand and explain the results of the survey. The survey explores (1) the nature and extent of violence in Bagong Silang, (2) the emotional, physical and material impact violence have on people’s lives and (3) what victims of crime and violence do to seek redress. On the basis of the results from the survey, the report explores two issues in depth – inter-personal violence in communities and state-perpetrated violence. The results from the victimization survey are presented in Chapter 3, whereas Chapter 4 explores interpersonal violence and its relation to notions of community and Chapter 5 explores state violence. In Chapter 6, we outline some of the possible consequences the conclusions of the report have for Balay’s intervention in Bagong Silang.

Through this study, we aim to establish better understanding of the nature and extent of interpersonal, communal and state violence in Bagong Silang in order to provide an evidence—based foundation for interventions. Balay Rehabilitation Center, lnc in Manila and DIGNITY — Danish Institute against Torture in Copenhagen have been involved in an intervention project in Bagong Silang since 2007. The project focuses on young people in conflict with the law. It offers psycho—social and legal services to victims of state violence. It also aims to prevent state violence by addressing the structural conditions that put young people at risk of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the state and a life of criminality and violence.

Read full article @balayph.net

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.

[Blog] After the flood: What is to be done? -DEKONZTRUKTSCHON

After the flood: What is to be done?

Rod Rivera

The question is a familiar one which Vladimir Lenin asked about the people’s revolution, which laid the grounds and framework to pursue the proletarian cause of establishing a people’s state that holds the mode of production against capitalism. The question is rhetorical and indeed an intelligent one that emphasizes taking control of the situation. The same applies in the critical examination of the people’s actions towards natural disasters.

After a few days of continuous rain, the monsoon rains devastated Luzon with floods and landslides. Now, the water has subsided in most areas, and this is not the first time that the country has experienced massive destruction – inundation to some others. The heavy rains and flooding put the Philippine’s disaster risk reduction management centers into test, that came more urgent when Ondoy flooded Metro Manila and adjacent provinces in 2009. It also tested, the effectiveness of the government’s project NOAH or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazard just recently in placed.

While households pick up the fragments of what is left in the floodwater, it is but high time to put forward solutions from the littlest things individuals could do and communities could contribute, and the systematic efforts institutions both private and public could share. Nobody wants to be submerged under water. Nobody wants to starve under a disaster. Nobody wants to lose a family member. Nobody wants to see a house torn by the raging floodwater.

Everyone needs safety and security. Hence, disaster risk reduction and management are vital to everyone. This has to take into consideration that the country is no more dealing with the usual type of disaster. The weather system has significantly changed. More volume of rains are expected, massive expanse of flooding in low lying areas, higher sea levels, greater winds, stronger quakes. Meteorological and geological statistics would tell that one natural event is like trying to beat another in the past.

Read full article @ rodrigo75.wordpress.com

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.

[In the news] DSWD to prioritize housing units for ‘Sendong’ victims – PhilStar.com

DSWD to prioritize housing units for ‘Sendong’ victims
By Evelyn Macairan, The Philippine Star
January 08, 2012
 MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) yesterday said they would prioritize families with children, pregnant women or with those with sick members in the housing program for victims of tropical storm “Sendong.”

In a statement, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said that priority would be given to families with small children, pregnant and lactating mothers; surrogate parents of orphaned children living in evacuation centers and damaged houses; families whose houses were damaged and whose heads of household died or were incapacitated as a result of the disaster, and families with members who are seriously ill or with special needs.

Under the program, the beneficiaries will be provided with structurally strong shelters constructed in the relocation site. These houses can withstand wind with a velocity of up to 220 kilometers per hour and an intensity four earthquake.

Social workers from the local governments validated the beneficiaries for the core shelter program.

In Cagayan de Oro, eight temporary relocation sites for typhoon victims have been set up. These are located in Calaanan, Lumbia, Agusan Elementary School, Mandumol basketball court, Buena Oro covered court, Camaman-an Covered Court, Fatima Parish Hall and Mt. Carmel Church.

Two permanent relocation sites were also set up in 9.5 hectares of land in Calaanan and five hectares in Lumbia.

In Iligan City, three permanent relocation sites were identified. These are in eight hectares of the property of the National Steel Corporation, three hectares in Sta. Filomena, 14.4 hectares in Sta. Elena.

A temporary relocation site was put up in the Integrated Bus Terminal in Barangay Tambo.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

[From the web] Torture prevention and rehabilitation in Asia – AHRC

A Paper by the Asian Human Rights Commission
ASIA: Torture prevention and rehabilitation in Asia
by Danilo Andres-Reyes

Obstacles in the implementation of norms & standards of rights in
developing countries

Reading from the abstracts of papers from other participants and
guest speakers for this Conference, the idea of ‘access to justice’,
as a theme to improve work on torture prevention and rehabilitation of
victims is given strong importance. To lay the basic orientation of
this paper, I resolved to review first the literature on how this term
were originally conceptualized; and, in developing countries in Asia,
where all of the participants have enormous experience in terms of
torture prevention and rehabilitation, how they operate in reality.

A simple Google search on this topic revealed this article from the
website of the World Bank, titled “Access to Justice”3, tells us of
its origin and also how this was presumably first conceptualized.
Here, it claimed the “concept arose in an era of the welfare state and
growing rights consciousness” in the 60s; and Italian jurist Mauro
Cappelletti contributed in his study that further “popularized the
idea of access to justice” in the 70s.

Thus, the idea of ‘access to justice’ is a product of realization by
welfare states, usually developed countries with rich resources, of
the need to invest resources not only in their territory but to
developing countries, to poor countries, to be able to enhance
delivery of justice for the poor and the disadvantaged groups.
However, while the concept itself reaffirmed the international human
rights norms and standards, how it has been understood and how it is
applied in developing countries in Asia is problematic.

There is a profound gap in understanding why developing countries
grossly fail to have ‘access to justice’, as it is conceived in
developed countries, in enhancing administration of justice for the
poor and the disadvantaged sectors of the society despite enormous aid
from donors. In this paper, I will attempt to explain the obstacles in
the application of norms and standards originally conceived by legal
experts, jurists and scholars in developed countries in the developing
countries in relation to ‘access to justice’ for torture victims in
Asia. To guide the conceptual framework of this paper, it must be
clear that the meaning of ‘access to justice’, as it is originally
conceived is not questioned; but rather, serves as norms as the basis
of this discourse in examining its application in Asia.

Access to justice: developed v developing countries

I agree with the observation of Gary Haugen, an American lawyer, that
in the last two decades of global human rights movement, the
development of norms and standards “has been predicated, consciously
or unconsciously, upon assumptions of a functioning public justice
system in the developing world.”4 Haugen argued that the development
of norms and standards of human rights is on a flawed assumption
systems of justice exists and operates in the developing world as it
is in the developed world. His observation affirmed what my
organization, the AHRC, has been observing for many years.

Taking from this observation, it is therefore not an overstatement
that this notion of ‘access to justice’ as it is originally conceived
is based on an assumption that a particular ‘system of justice’ is
functioning and operates in Asia as it is understood in the west. The
ongoing discourse on ‘access to justice’, for example in the UK, is
related to the State obligation to ensure a fully funded legal aid
system. This was spurred by the proposal of Justice Secretary Kenneth
Clarke “plans to slash £350m a year from the legal aid budget”5 in
November 2010.

In the UK’s perception of ‘access to justice’, the protest is more on
ensuring its citizens, with the use of government’s resources, are
able to seek remedies and redress for the grievances from its
institutions of justice via legal aid. As shown in this report, the
debate focuses on the strong opposition to plans to cut the budget on
legal aid but not on the question as to the quality and substance of
the legal aid service; nor, is it concerned with the functioning of
the UK’s justice system. It is assumed as a concern that without
publicly funded legal aid, the citizens are either deprived or would
be deprived from ‘access to justice’.

Here, these assumptions are evident: lawyers and the legal practice
is credible; that when lawyers invoked, say their client’s ‘right to
remain silent, the police investigators strictly observed; that the
prosecutor’s, in prosecuting cases that legal aid lawyers are
representing, thoroughly examine evidence collected by the police; and
once the client’s complaints finally reach the court for adjudication,
there are independent and competent court judges to decide on the
basis of established norms and law.

Therefore, it is evident the concept of ‘access to justice’ in the
UK, a developed country, is not difficult to be concluded as
consistent with how it was originally conceived; and of the assumption
its institution of justice functions and operates in a rule of law
system. But this is not the case in countries in Asia. There is a
fundamental difference, however, when this concept is applied in the
developing countries, particularly in Asia.

Torture, extrajudicial killings in Asia

In the UK the ongoing discourse on the ‘access to justice’ is no
longer concerned with the questions as to how its institutions of
justice function, but rather of how its citizens should be given the
opportunity to have access to its evidently functioning system.
However, in Asian countries the concern is twofold: taking on the
legal aid issue, governments not only do not invest adequate resources
for legal aid for the poor but also, even if there is a legal air
system available it is available only on a limited scale, the
operation of its system of justice does not adhere to the notion of
rule of law as is understood in developed countries.

To argue my point, I take the cases selected below as an example
followed by the summary of “the current political and institutional
conditions for the combating of torture country-by-country”6. The
summary, which completely expressed the observations I had, is not my
formulation but that of the AHRC’s result of their work on torture.
These cases are not at all exceptional in these countries.

In Bangladesh,

FMA Razzak is the President of the Human Rights Development Centre
(HRDC) and Editor of the Pakkhik Gonomichhil in Paikgachha of Khulna
district, Bangladesh. On April 29, 2011, Razzak and his younger
brother, Mr. Bodiuzzaman Bodiar; brother-in-law, Mr. Bakkar, were
attacked after having been kidnapped by the relatives of an army
major, Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, upon the latter’s order.

After they were kidnapped and in custody of the Mustafizur Rahman’s
relatives, the three were beaten severely. They gouged Razzak’s eye
socket with screw drivers. They deliberately delayed, with the
tolerance of the local police, to have Razzak and the two other
victims taken to hospital to be treated. Even when they were inside
the hospital they were not given the immediate medical attention they
needed. Had it not been due to pressure and publicity on their case,
they would have probably been left to die.7

Another activist who has been helping him after he was attacked,
Dipal Barua, briefly disappeared on May 24, 2011 returning home with a
terrifying story of abduction, interrogation and torture. He was
abducted by four men in a car as he was returning home a friend’s
house in Sayeedabad, city of Dhaka. At an unknown place, they took
Dipal out of the car, and into what seemed like a room. There, they
took of the handcuffs and told him to remove his clothes. He removed
his shirt but not his pants. He told them that he did not want to be
naked. They told him, “You should decide on that, otherwise we know
how to do it”. Then he removed his pants. The men put him inside a
cold room naked, and the door was closed.8 They questioned him about
his relation with Razzak and his connection with the AHRC.

In Burma,

In 2010, Lt. Col. Aung Thaik Htun, was tortured to death and his body
dumped by officials in an attempt to cover up the murder, while three
other men associated with him have been imprisoned for three years
each without fair trial because of alleged contacts with insurgents.
On July 2010, Lt. Col. Htun, commander of Infantry Battalion No. 8,
went with his men on two dates to arrest six villagers accused of
having contact with the anti-government Karen National Union.
Relatives of the men allege that the accusations of involvement with
insurgents emerged because of local disputes and because of the
corruption of local council officials.

One of the six accused men escaped, but the other five the army took
into custody and tortured them to extract confessions. The methods of
torture allegedly included setting fire to plastic and dropping it
onto the men’s bodies, including the genitals. As a result of the
torture, San Shwe, 38, died in custody on July 11. According to a
witness, officials dragged his body “like a pig” to a treed area and
buried it in an attempt to cover up the murder. Of the other four
accused, relatives of one paid for him to be released. The other three
men, Hla Hpone, 37, Maung La, 69 and Paw La, 54, were taken to court
in two separate cases and after short hearings each was given three
years in prison.

The convictions of the three men were unlawful because they were
based on confessions obtained in army custody that were then given to
the police for lodgment in the court. The army also held the men
illegally and gave them to the police just prior to their trials. It
was only then that cases were opened against them and remand was
sought to keep them in custody legally. The police officers that
supposedly investigated the cases in fact neither interrogated the
accused nor examined any evidence against them before the cases were
brought to court.9

“Still an effective military dictatorship. No role exists for
independent institutions. The police and the courts are subordinated
to the military, and totally incapable of addressing the incidence of
torture. Civil society is yet to emerge in any substantial way.”

In Cambodia,

After the first election in post Pol Pot Cambodia in May 1993, the
new constitution promised a liberal democracy and a system of
governance based on the rule of law. However, the country is still in
a state of abysmal lawlessness and ordinary Cambodians are powerless.
There are no institutions in the country which can offer them any kind
of protection. The Cambodian police is in a rudimentary stage of
development, is known to be corrupt and completely under the political
control of the regime and those who are rich and powerful. Cambodian
courts are also known to be corrupt and are used as instruments of
political control by way of jailing opposition politicians; people
resisting land grabbing; those who express independent opinions and
civil society activists who express solidarity with victims of abuse
of power. There are no institutions that people can turn to make any
complaints or to turn to any kind of help when faced with injustice.
And the injustices that the people face are many.10

“Still emerging from one of the world’s worst human catastrophes,
in which established political and legal structures were completely
destroyed. Though there is a transition to democracy by way of a new
constitution, hardly any independent institutions exist. There is
hardly any role for the legislature or judiciary. The system is
entirely controlled by the executive. The military has a major role.
The police have no independence.”

In India,

Mrs Paru, 65, filed a complaint against her neighbor, Subish, at the
Malakkapara Police Station on October 6, 2011 alleging he had stolen
her money and the newly bought mobile phone at her home. A young
police constable at the police station recorded her complaint. She was
promised that when the Assistant Sub-Inspector arrives, he will seek
permission from the officer to investigate the complaint.

Paru later received information that she should present herself at
the same police station on 10 October. Here, Subish returned the
stolen telephone and said that he would return the money soon. Then
Paru and Subish shook hands and decided to leave the station. But when
Paru shook hands with Subish, Mani and Manikandan said that instead of
shaking hands, the police should cane Paru.

Hearing this, the Assistant Sub Inspector Joy grabbed a cane and hit
Paru on her right thigh. Then the officer pulled Paru holding her
right hand and forced her on to the floor. Then the officer caned Paru
on her foot until it started bleeding.11

“A democracy in which social contradictions such as caste and
tradition have created serious obstacles to the development of
democratic institutions — a system of civilian policing exists and
the military does not have any influence over government — there is
widespread corruption — there is however greater room for civilian
interventions and protests.”

In Indonesia,

On 14 December 2010, activists organized a rally at the Penerangan
Sanggeng field in Manokwari to mark the 22nd anniversary of the
Proclamation of West Melanesia. The activity had already been
registered with the police and thus was legal. A second group of
activists conducted a peaceful protest march against human rights
violations by the Indonesian security forces against Papuans and other
justice issues. The peaceful march continued until the participants
met with the people celebrating the anniversary of West Melanesia.
During the ceremony, Melki Bleskadit raised the Morning Star Flag, a
symbol of West Papuan independence. The riot control forces of the
Manokwari District Police immediately dispersed the crowd and arrested
at least eight persons, including Simon Banundi, a member of the local
legal aid organization, LP3BH from Manokwari, who was there to monitor
the actions of the security forces against protesters.

The police then questioned seven detainees without legal counsel,
five of which were students attending the protest march: Jhon Wilson
Wader, Penehas Serongon, Yance Sekenyap, Alex Duwiri and Jhon Raweyai,
who conducted the peaceful march joining the anniversary rally. Police
arrested two more political activists from the anniversary
celebration, Melki Bleskadit and Daniel Yenu. In detention, the
victims had to sleep on a wet floor with poor hygienic conditions and
were given stale foods. They contracted malaria and loss weight
significantly. The victims’ families were denied access to visit them
and the victims themselves were not allowed to receive food from their
families. Bleskadit said his repeated calls and requests for medical
attention were ignored by the guards. It was only in January and
February 2011 that they were given access to medical treatment.

In Nepal,

In 2002, Hom Bahadur Bagale, a former police officer, was tortured
and illegally detained for having refused to obey an illegal order
from his superiors. The police neither admitted that they kept him in
detention nor had arrested him the Kathmandu District Police Office,
Hanumandhoka from November 28 to December 5. He was only examined by a
doctor nineteen days after he was first tortured. He was released only
after the Appellate Court ordered the police officers to produce him
within 24 hours following a habeas corpus petition filed by his wife.

As a result, he filed two complaints in relation to the illegal
arrest, detention and torture of him but nine years on his complaints
had no substantial progress. Because he filed a case against the
police, he has been subjected to ongoing harassment, threats and
intimidation, obviously for him to withdraw his complaints. He was
fired from his job, arbitrarily arrested and further tortured in 2006.

On October 31, 2011 the Supreme Court heard his complaint in 21
August 2008 after it had been rejected by the lower court. The case he
filed is under the Torture Compensation Act against his perpetrators
in the Kathmandu District Court on 31 December 2002, nearly nine years
ago. The District Court earlier ruled in 13 July 2004 in favor of the
perpetrators. Bagale filed an appeal in the Patan Appellate Court on 6
December 2004, which also upheld the decision in favour.

The medical report indicates that the bruises and marks on the
victim’s body could be due to torture; however, both the district and
appellate courts rejected this medical report. The court argued it is
no longer reliable as evidence because it was conducted ‘too long
ago’. Also, both courts held they found no proof that the victim was
kept in detention during the said period.12

“(Nepal was) A monarchy for a long time, and now in transition to
democracy. Due to long years of internal conflict there is enormous
instability. There is not yet an agreement on the nature of the
constitution. Political conditions at time border on anarchic. There
is also widespread corruption. Civilian policing has not been
established. The military still plays a strong role.”

In Pakistan,

On September 6, 2011, popular poet Mr. Mohummad Anwar Sahar, son of
Mehmood, was summoned by the Langrana Police Station in order to have
his statement in relation to the murder of one Zahid Arain by unknown
persons on August 14 recorded. Sahar reported in the presence of some
notables of the area. The Police Station House Officer (SHO) sub
inspector Zaffar Witto and investigation officer (IO) of the murder
case, Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Jafar Wittoof told the notables
that they would only question him as part of their murder
investigation and that he would be freed after some time so they
should return to their work. However, in the evening of September 7
Sahar was shifted to another police station, the Bhawana police
station, in his severe condition. In September 8, the people came to
know that Sahar died of the severe torture inflicted on him during the

The five police officials allegedly responsible for torturing to
death a poet in their custody are still at large. They have not been
arrested and the investigation to book them is still ongoing after one
month. It is reported that because of the influence of a provincial
minister and other legislators from the ruling party the two police
stations of the Chiniot district of Punjab province have become known
of its use of torture. Examination of the Sahar’s corpse revealed 29
torture marks. His fingernails had been pulled out. These injuries
were inflicted upon the victim within a period of only 24 hours while
he was in the custody of the police.13

In Philippines,

John Paul Nerio was a 17 year-old high school student when he was
tortured in police custody on December 11, 2010. He was tortured while
being questioned without a counsel inside the Women and Children’s
Desk (WCD). The policemen in Kidapawan City falsely accused him of
being involved in a fight at a bar. He suffered injuries to his chest,
due to the trauma he stopped going to school and fears seeing
policemen. He did not tell his parents of his torture until March

His parents had pleaded from the local senior police officers to have
their son’s case investigated but they were ignored. The police
defended the policemen whom the family had accused of torturing their
son. No investigation was conducted and no sanctions were imposed on
the policemen involved despite a formal complaint. After the incident
was exposed, the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the Commission on
Human Rights (CHR) conducted it investigation for violation of the
Anti-Torture Act of 2009. The PAO then filed both criminal charges and
administrative charges against the policemen for torturing the boy.

However, while the hearing on administrative charges was ongoing at
the city’s People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB), a citizen’s
complaint, the policemen use third party persons to threaten the
family of the victim and their witnesses. The PLEB did nothing to
afford protection and security to the victim and his family. Also, the
CHR and PAO knew full well of the threat and the risk the family are
into; however, they both failed to provide prompt and adequate
protection as required by the Anti-Torture Act.

Due to threats, the victim and his family had no choice but to
withdraw the charges and settle for the case outside the court in
exchange for monetary offer. The policemen accused in the case were
known locally to have connections with hired-killers, illegal armed
group and with the military.

“Basically a democracy; however, with an internal system of
administration that retains authoritarian features due to the legacy
of the Marcos dictatorship. A military-police nexus prevents effective
reform. Corruption is widespread and affects the independence and
functioning of important institutions. Gun culture is widespread.”

In Sri Lanka,

On 30 October 2011, Mr. M.M. Kushantha Janaka Herath was illegally
arrested, detained and severely tortured by officers of the Wattegama
Police Station. Kushan was on his way home when he was stopped by
three police officers who ordered him to submit to a search. He
voluntarily submitted showing the officers, who he realised were
inebriated, what was inside his pockets. He was then ordered to lower
his pants, which he did because he was frightened and he had to endure
the embarrassment in open view of the crowd.

The police officers, who did not find anything in the way of illegal
substance or stolen property on his purse, then started beating him.
They took him to the Wattegama Police Station where they torture him
further. Here, he was taken to a dark room of the police station. Four
police officers came while three others held his hands. Then Sergeant
Anura kicked him in the testicles five times causing enormous pain and
slapped him several times. When he was unable to remain standing due
to pain, the three officers nevertheless continue to restrain him
while Sergeant Anura carries on beating him.

When Kushan started to vomit the officers dragged him to the front of
the station and lifted him into a police vehicle, all the while
shouting at him in obscene language. He was brought to a medical
dispensary at Wattegama Kandy Road but the doctor at the medical
center refused to accept or treat him stating that he was in severe
condition and that it was the result of torture. The police officers
then took him to the Manikkagama Government Hospital. Here, the doctor
who examined him also refused to treat him or admit him stating that
his condition was severe. The doctor further questioned the police
officers as to why they brought the patient to the Manikkagama
Hospital when the Wattegama Government Hospital is very much closer to
the police station. He was then taken to the Manikhina Government
Hospital where he was produced before the District Medical Officer
(DMO), not at the hospital but at the latter’s residence. Before his
arrival there, however, he was assaulted again by Sergeant Anura
warning him not to tell the doctor that had tortured him.14

“(Sri Lanka is) formerly a democracy, now an authoritarian system
under an all-powerful executive president. Legislative and judicial
power has diminished. There are no independent institutions. Every
aspect of the system is politicized. External agents are in control of
policing. There is widespread corruption. The rule of law has
virtually collapsed.”

In Thailand,

On 16 July 2004, Mr. Kiettisak Thitboonkrong, age 17, was arrested by
the police in Kalasin province on charges of allegedly stealing a
motorcycle. When his family heard this news, they went to the police
station and attempted to talk to him. After returning multiple times,
his grandmother was allowed to witness his interrogation on 22 July
2004 and told to wait for him to be bailed out (the guarantor was a
municipal officer) later that day. But Mr. Kiettisak never came home.
A few days later, his mangled body was found in a neighboring

At the urging of the relatives of Mr. Kiettisak, the Department of
Special Investigation (DSI) in the Ministry of Justice began
investigating his death in 2005, spent three years investigating his
death. On 18 May 2009, six police officers were charged with
premeditated murder and with concealing Mr. Kiettisak’s corpse to hide
the cause of death. Because this case was investigated under the
Special Investigation Act it was sent to the Criminal Court in
Bangkok. The public prosecutor is conducting the case.

On 7 June 2011 at 9 am at the Criminal Court in Bangkok, the witness
hearings of the defendant will continue in the case of Mr. Kiettisak
Thitboonkrong, who was one of the 28 victims of the Kalasin Killings.
This is the first case in which the DSI has charged police for the
murders that characterised the notorious ‘war on drugs’ and its
aftermath in Kalasin.15

“A monarchical system which is in slow transition to democracy. The
military still plays a major role in the system. Policing is built on
a military model. Corruption is widespread. Most government
institutions operate outside of the democratic process and according
to their own objectives and interests.”

For countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh & Indonesia: “States in
transition from military dictatorships to democratic governments.
Military institutions, practices and legacies continue to have an
enormous impact. Civilian policing is still rudimentary.”

In my five years of work experience as programme officer of the
AHRC’s Urgent Appeals programme, I have documented and read hundreds,
if not thousands, of similar cases. This is what happening daily in
these countries. This data tells us about the grim reality in
developing Asian countries. They are sheer contradiction to the
operation of the public institutions of justice, like the police,
prosecution and the court, from its real meaning. Haugen’s
observations of the assumed “functioning public justice system in the
developing world” is evident as obstacles in stimulating meaningful
discourse in ensuring ‘access to justice’ in developing countries.

Here, the ‘access to justice’ in Asian countries is of little meaning
than its importance in establishing the norms and standards. In
developed countries, for centuries of its own struggle it has achieved
a system of justice that operates strongly on rule of law; but, in
developing countries where operation of system of justice completely
disregards any notion of ‘rule of law’ discourse on ‘access of
justice’ has no meaning.

Access to ‘no justice’: weak & dysfunctional system

What the AHRC has observed is that the absence of justice is a result
of a ‘dysfunctional system’. I argue below that this observation is
not an overstatement. The observation published in the website of the
United States Institute of Peace, titled ‘Necessary Condition: Access
to Justice’16, wherein they identified conditions that is required in
achieving the implementation of ‘access to justice’ in its real sense.
They emphasize the utmost role of the State’s policing, prosecution
and judiciary, as the institution of justice, as fundamental in
implementing its compliance to its legal obligations under Article 2
of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

In Article 2 of the ICCPR, it obligates States that “any person whose
rights of freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an
effective remedy”; thus, taking on the United States Institute of
Peace article “where there is a weak justice system” there is no
access to justice concludes that there is no effective remedy in them.
However, the examples of cases I have mentioned above were not merely
violation due to a ‘weak system of justice’. They are violations as a
result of how the system of justice operates in reality.

To make a distinction between ‘weak’ from ‘dysfunctional’, I refer to
the online Mirriam Webster’s dictionary. Here, it defined weak as “not
able to function properly” and dysfunctional as “impaired or abnormal
functioning”. Further, what does a ‘dysfunctional system’ means is
well-articulated in a speech by my colleague, Basil Fernando. He
defined a ‘dysfunctional system’ to mean as an “abnormal or impaired
functioning, especially of a bodily system or social group” and in the
usage of “understanding of mental health, dysfunctional has come to
mean the kind of mental illness which makes it impossible for the
person who is suffering from it, to carry out the functions that a
normal and rational person does”17

In the cases mentioned above, none of them could offer any logical
justification as to the existence of a system of justice of any sort.
Their existence is legitimated either by legal instruments or its mere
appearance of its structure, but their function and operation is
completely devoid of any notions of rule of law, legality and the
internationally acceptable norms and standards of what a ‘system of
justice’ must be. Thus, what does it mean to advocate for prevention
of torture and rehabilitation in a ‘dysfunctional system of justice’?
To illustrate my point, I will illustrate below real difficulties in
advocating for ‘access to justice’ in a dysfunctional system.

In Asia: how does police, prosecution and court system operates?

The police

The attack on Razzak and torture of his colleague, Dipal, in
Bangladesh; the murder of Htun, a military officer in Burma; the
illegal arrest, detention and torture of former police officer Bagale
in Nepal, torture of ordinary persons Herath in Sri Lanka and Nerio in
the Philippines; and assault on Mrs. Paru, for filing a complaint in
India; tells us how the policing functions in reality. Here, this is
the character of the policing that we tell the people to seek
assistance from for their grievances when we tell them to access

The police assault on an elderly minority, Mrs. Paru, for reasons of
her complaining and subsequently agreeing to a settlement for a crime
of theft against her neighbor inside the police station has its impact
extending beyond the mere assault on her. She was assaulted upon the
instigation of the relatives of who she complained for theft. Here,
the police are telling anyone, particularly the minorities which
should have required more protection, that what happened to her will
happen to them should they complain. The police have completely
disregarded the value of filing complaints.

Where filing complaints is possible, like in Nerio’s case, the police
use all means the torture victim and his family withdraws their
complaint against them. The accused use their connections with the
hired-killers, illegal armed groups and the military to threaten them
from pursuing complaints in court. Here, the policemen accused of
torture have succeeded in threatening the victim. For lack of
protection for him, his family and the witnesses to his case, he had
to withdraw his complaint.

The case of Herath, tortured after the policemen failed to find
evidence from him following a body search in open view of the public;
and Bagale, tortured by his fellow policemen for refusing to obey an
illegal order, are clear examples of policemen not a law enforcer but
rather law breakers. A type of policing system condition to operate in
breaking the law rather than enforcing them; and had no regard in
legality, had no credibility that they could ever perform an effective
investigation required from them.

Rather investigations are, like in the case of Razzak, who was
attacked by the military as a result of his human rights work; and
torture of Dipal, who was questioned by the police on who supports him
and Razzak in their human rights work, illustrates a type of an
investigation mechanism designed not to collect information purposely
to prosecute a crime but rather to target any individuals threatening
the authority of the police and the military and the status quo. The
rejection of the country’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),
after it was asked to investigate the attack on Razzak, on the basis
of an investigation conducted by security forces also have had records
of committing widespread torture, is a sheer violation to any
effective remedy of any sort.

The death of popular poet Mr. Sahar, who was last seen alive after he
was turned over for custody to the police in Pakistan due to torture,
illustrates how the police do not fear from prosecution. They kill any
person they were investigating for a crime without pretense, they be
falsely accused or otherwise. The notion of policemen having legal
responsibility to ensure protection of detainees in their custody is

This can also be said to the four victims whom the policemen had
illegally arrested, detained and charged in Indonesia. The four
detainees slept on wet floor having “poor hygienic conditions”, “given
stale foods” and due to this “contracted malaria and loss weight
significantly” in police custody. The victims’ families were denied
access to visit them and the victims themselves were not allowed to
receive food from their families.

The prosecution and the court

In Htun’s murder, the conviction of the three men, on the basis of
the confessions that were extracted from them by army who took custody
of them, disregards any notion of due process and fair trial. Here, it
is the army, who is obviously more powerful than the police, who are
assumed the role supposed of policing that is civilian in nature. The
notion of effective remedy for any violation is pointless because “the
police and the courts are subordinated to the military, and totally
incapable of addressing the incidence of torture”.

The notion of punishment for crimes that were supposedly committed is
also absent. When relatives of one “of the other four accused,
(relatives of one) paid for him to be released”, it tells how
sophisticated corruption has become around where this supposed ‘system
of justice’ functions. Freedom can be bought depending on the money
you have in your pocket. But for those who have no money and
connections, they could not do anything. The trial of this case also
disregards any notion of the use of ‘forensic evidence’ or rudimentary
form of ‘medical documentation’ as it should have been in developed

Even in democratic countries, like the Philippines, “the appreciation
of forensic evidence by police investigators and prosecutors and its
admissibility as evidence in Philippine courts has emerged only in the
last 15 years in court” and “the courts still do not have developed
jurisprudence on matters of forensic investigation, and there is
strong resistance for many practical reasons. Courts still heavily
depend on oral testimonies of witnesses to establish the guilt or
innocence of the accused.18

The rejection of Bagale’s complaint of torture in Nepal court
demonstrates that in their courts ‘forensic investigation’ and
‘medical documentation’ has no importance. To prove his case, he
produced medical proof indicating he had “bruises and marks”; however,
his evidence was rejected twice by the lower courts who “argued (that)
it is no longer reliable as evidence because it was conducted ‘too
long ago'”. The delay in the trial of his complaint, which is a result
also of the failure of the court to resolve cases promptly, was the
reason why his evidence had been rejected. Here, even when victims do
‘access justice’ in reality the obstacle in obtaining justice is its
own system of justice itself.

What can be done?

In Asia, the operation and functioning of the police, the prosecution
and the judiciary, in reality starkly contradicts to how it is
understood in developed countries. The discourse on normative
framework of rights offers no solution. They in fact perpetuate flawed
assumptions of the existence of a justice system by mere repetitions
ignoring the character of how the system operates illegally under our
nose. Thus, as Haugen rightly put it, the work on torture prevention
and rehabilitation for victims should not have been “predicated,
consciously or unconsciously, upon assumptions of a functioning public
justice system”.

To conclude this paper, I urge fellow participants in this
Conference, particularly those involved in work on prevention of
torture and rehabilitation, to seriously reflect upon this. Unless
these are seriously taken as a matter of priority on the discourse on
‘access to justice’, our work would have negligible contributions in
improving the condition in our societies.

The wealth of knowledge that we have in our own countries, for
decades of talking to torture victims in aiding for their
rehabilitation, should form part of this ongoing discourse in our
pursuit of finding solution as to how to deal with this real problems.
They must be articulated in its particular context, as to whether the
discourse on norms and standards, would have any sort of meaning in
our own societies.

The documentation of cases and the analysis of the whole picture, for
example, the interviews we had from victims of torture, their
families; and their quest to seek remedies from the system of justice
in their countries, would have invaluable contribution to our advocacy
on torture prevention and rehabilitation. I argue that our role should
be beyond helping victims recover from their trauma, but also how to
stimulate discussion with victims and families, of their powerful role
in articulating real problems they and ordinary persons faced everyday
in these countries. Here, something can be done.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional
non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia,
documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional
reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The
Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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[Blogger] Youth must be sent to schools rather than in jails – sdkonline.wordpress.com

Youth must be sent to schools rather than in jails

Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) strongly opposed the proposal of some legislators to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility. The current minimum age is 15 years old under the Juvenile Justice Act.  The said proposal is a mere blame game on the government’s failure to address the problem of increasing numbers of children involved in crimes.

Violation of the Child’s Rights

Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC), a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years of age.  The indicated age should enjoy his/her right to be free from any criminal responsibility (e.g. capital punishment, life imprisonment etc.) It is very clear that our government would be violating the said international convention of which we are a signatory if the said proposal will be adopted.

Rehabilitation, not punishment

SDK affirm its belief that youth offenders do not deserve punishment, most of the said offenders who committed crimes belong to the poor and working class families who have longed been deprived of a decent life.  They were pushed to resort on illegal activities because they need to survive on a barbaric world of consumerism.  The real culprit on this menace is no other than the government itself, who failed to provide a real program to rehabilitate youth offenders for them to be reintegrated and assume a constructive role in our society. The proposal to lower the minimum age on criminal responsibility will only make the real culprit (the government) get out of its responsibility.  It will not solve a single problem on the issue of youth perpetrated crimes.

They should be in schools, not in jails

Youth perpetrated crimes will be lessened or in the maximum be non-existent if the youth are enjoying their right to education. But in reality, drop-out rates in schools are increasing due to extreme poverty. Worst of all, the government continues to cut budgets in education and promotes commercialization. This is the government’s worst crime, depriving the youth of his/her right to be educated and build their capacity to live decently.

We call on the legislators to stop this non-sense blame game and focus on creating policies that will ensure our right to education and to live with dignity. Lowering the minimum age on criminal responsibility will never create a substantial solution. But ensuring our rights will definitely generate a more progressive, responsible, empowered and dignified citizens in the future.

September 15, 2011