Tag Archives: torture victims

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

Torture Rehabilitation should be victim-centered
By Darwin Mendiola

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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.

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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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[Video] Stop Torture Campaign, Interview with families of victims -AIph

Published on May 12, 2014
Amnesty International produced a video for the launch of its Stop Torture Campaign in the Philippines. The interviews were conducted with family members of two torture victims.

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[Statement] Empowering the Torture Victims is a key in Fighting Impunity -UATC

Empowering the Torture Victims is a key in Fighting Impunity
UATC Support Statement on
Amnesty International’s Global Campaign Against Torture
13 May 2014

Torture is an affront to human life and dignity that cannot be justified under any circumstances in any parts of the world.

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The United Against Torture Coalition – Philippines (UATC) restates its commitments to fight against torture and end impunity by upholding the basic human rights and dignity of every individual as it joins the Amnesty International in the launching of the Global Campaign Against Torture.

The global campaign, which will be carried out through holding of series of public events, is aimed to remind all States including the Philippine government of their obligations to respect and guarantee the right of every person to be free from torture and ill-treatment, to effectively bring those responsible to justice, and to guarantee reparative measures to victims and their families.

The UATC- Philippines laments that the practice of torture continue to occur in a widespread and systematic manner everywhere in the world. The Philippines is no exemption. Despite the enactment a domestic law criminalizing torture in 2009 which is purportedly aimed at ending impunity and giving meaning to the Convention Against Torture to which the Philippines is state party since June 1986, torture is continuously being committed by government authorities or agents of the state particularly the police and the military usually to punish, to obtain information or a confession, to take revenge on a person or persons, and to sow terror and fear not only to victims but also to their families and the larger society.

The clear rift between policies and practices of torture in the Philippines is once again conspicuously displayed in the recent news about existence of the “wheel of torture” at the Philippine National Police (PNP) satellite detention facility in Biñan, Laguna.

It reveals not only that torture is still prevalent, but it is being committed with total impunity. The Philippine Justice system seems to be unmoved by these legal and institutional reforms as no perpetrators until now are held to account.

Take for example the documented torture cases of Lenin Salas, Ronnel Victor R. Cabais and Abdul-Khan Ajid which are faced with a number of legal impediments such as the slow and ineffective police investigations, difficulty in positively identifying the perpetrators, inaccessibility of prompt, thorough, impartial and independent medical care and evaluation and the risk of reprisals against victims and witnesses.

While it is imperative for the Philippine government to address the existing legal gaps and limitations in the implementation of the law in order to ensure accountability, it also needs to focus its attentions and efforts on the prevention of torture and the rehabilitation of torture victims.

One way to ensure its prevention is to guarantee and strictly observed the rights of any person under arrest or placed under custody particularly the right to medical examination within 48 hours and in every level of the chain of custody.

Torture victims should also be accorded with immediate medical and psychological care through high quality, accessible and appropriate rehabilitation program regardless of the prosecution and conviction of the torture cases. Though, the Philippine government has just approved a Comprehensive Rehabilitation Programs for Torture Victims which was crafted by inter-agencies headed by the Commission of Human Rights (CHR), it is still very unclear how torture victims can access the available government services and if it has the necessary budget lines to ensure the provisions of rehabilitation program to torture victims.  The Philippine government must therefore look at rehabilitation as the means to empower the torture victims in order for them to resume a full life as possible and to restore their situation in all likeliness that it would have existed if torture had not been committed.

The UATC – Philippines believes that empowering torture victims is a key not only for rebuilding their lives but also for continuing their quest for justice. However, this can only be possible if the Philippine government and all states can guarantee the freedom of every person from torture and other forms of state violence.

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The UATC- Philippines is composed of more than thirty (30) human rights organizations led by Amnesty International-Philippines, Balay Rehabilitation Center, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), Medical Action Group (MAG), and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).

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[From the web] Edeliza P. Hernandez: Ten Portraits against Torture and Impunity -OMCT

Edeliza P. Hernandez: Ten Portraits against Torture and Impunity

Photo source: OMCT.org

Photo source: OMCT.org

omct_logo_enI am Ms. Maria Natividad Hernandez (also fondly called my colleagues and friends “Edeliza”), a health professional and a human rights defender. I am the Executive Director of the Medical Action Group (MAG) http://magph.org/ since 2001 and a Council member of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims for the term 2012-2015. In this capacity, I have gained a huge experience in documenting cases of torture and other forms of human rights violations particularly in providing treatment for torture survivors. From my academic and professional experience in the right to health and anti-torture movement, I am not only equipped with knowledge and skills on the fight against torture, I am as well guided by critical and sharp understanding of the dynamics of the human rights movement in the Philippines.

For many years, I have participated in many human rights fact-finding missions and visited prisons in the Philippines and since 2001, I have been conducting capacity building activities on the popularization of and familiarization on the use of the UN Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Istanbul Protocol”) among doctors and health professionals.

I have been part of the Technical Working Group (TWG) on crafting the Anti-Torture Act of the Philippines as well as its Implementing Rules and Regulations. I have been exposed to many international human rights work representing MAG to the various set of conferences such as the UN Committee Against Torture, the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Cooperation Strategy Multi Stakeholders Consultative meeting in October 2010 and validation and 2012-2013 Biennium Planning last February 2011.

As a specialized trainer on the use of the Istanbul Protocol, I have co-authored several publications, information materials and research studies on right to health focused particularly on providing care for torture survivors based on the Istanbul Protocol.

For most of my professional life, I have worked for various NGOs as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC).

I am 51 years old, married and with three children.

Read full article @ www.omct.org

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[from the web] IRCT welcomes advances on right to rehabilitation for torture victims

IRCT welcomes advances on right to rehabilitation for torture victims 

November 19, 2012

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) welcomes the adoption of the UN Committee Against Torture’s General Comment on Article 14 of the Convention Against Torture. This is an important step forward in ensuring that torture victims receive adequate redress and reparations including rehabilitation services.

Miriam Reventlow, Head of Legal and Advocacy for the IRCT, says, “For too long, States have ignored their obligation to provide rehabilitation services to torture victims and left it to NGOs to deliver these crucial services. This General Comment not only makes clear that providing rehabilitation services is a clear obligation of States regardless of available resources, it also provides a very valuable contribution to determining what these services must contain and when and by whom should provide them.”

The General Comment clarifies a number of issues about victims’ right to rehabilitation under the Convention Against Torture.

1. It stipulates that rehabilitation services “should be holistic and include medical and psychological care as well as legal and social services” and further explains that rehabilitation services have to achieve as full rehabilitation as possible without regard to the resources available in the perpetrating State.

2. It establishes that “each State party should adopt a long-term and integrated approach and ensure that specialised services for the victim of torture or ill-treatment are available, appropriate and promptly accessible.”

3. It provides that services must be provided at the earliest possible point in time and that this must not depend on the victim pursuing judicial remedies.

4. Lastly, it establishes that rehabilitation services can either be delivered by State institutions or through funding of non-State services providers and the victim participation in the selection of service provider is essential.

The IRCT is very pleased that the General Comment makes a strong and detailed contribution to the obligation of States to provide rehabilitation services. The IRCT looks forward to working with our members and, where relevant, Government agencies to make this right a reality for all torture victims.

Source: http://www.irct.org/

For more information:
UN Committee Against Torture’s General Comment No. 3 on Article 14

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[Resources] Torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines–Implementation of the Anti-Torture Act

Torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines–Implementation of the Anti-Torture Act 

The Alternative Report jointly prepared and submitted by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), the Medical Action Group (MAG) and the Balay Rehabilitation Center to the UN Human Rights Committee, 106th Session (October 15-Novemner 2, 2012) for the Philippines Fourth Periodic Report on the CCPR.

Read full report @ www2.ohchr.org

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[From the web] Taking the Istanbul Protocol forward -worldwithouttorture.org

Taking the Istanbul Protocol forward.

Creating national plans for documenting torture – and UN monitoring of it – is hopefully the next stage for IRCT’s work with the Istanbul Protocol

A main impediment for torture victims to access justice is their lack of access to have physical and mental trauma documented by qualified medical experts. Without such evidence, cases are often dismissed without trial and the victims branded as lacking credibility.

Simply, for torture victims to take a case forward and for perpetrators to be held accountable, victims need access to documentation of their trauma provided by qualified experts.

For more than 10 years, the IRCT and key partner organisations have been working on ensuring effective access for all torture victims to a competent, independent and impartial medical/psychological examination of their trauma. This has mainly been done through promotion of the Istanbul Protocol, the UN-recognised standard and guide on documenting torture.

For example, through the IRCT’s collaboration with key forensic scientists, we have been able to use the Istanbul Protocol in key torture cases, such as with Khaled Said in Egypt.

Read full article @ worldwithouttorture.org