Tag Archives: Torture

[Statement] Justice for Tisoy and All Victims of Torture -Balay

Justice for Tisoy and All Victims of Torture

Today, Balay marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture with deep sadness and anger. We join those who mourn and denounce the death of Genesis Argoncillo, 22, and call on authorities to hold accountable those who allowed his death to happen.

Policemen arrested Argoncillo, also known as “Tisoy”, on June 15 because he was not wearing a shirt when he stepped out of his home to get a cellphone load at a nearby sari-sari store. Four days later he was rushed to hospital but was declared dead on arrival. He bore marks of senseless beating. Authorities initially explained that his injuries were self-inflicted, claiming that he was “mentally disturbed” and was uncontrollable, making a scene inside the cell. His death certificate indicates that he died of multiple blunt force trauma in the neck, head, chest, and upper extremities. He also bore bruises on his shoulders and hips.

Tisoy’s death in custody is neither the first nor the last. Three suspected drug users died apparently due to illness aggravated by heat and exhaustion, from February to April 2018 in Pasay Police Station. Housed in the same building used by the police investigation and detective management section, the 22.8-square-meter jail is originally meant for only 40 people but holds 143, according the section chief.[1] Between May and June 2018, five persons detained in police lock up jails in Quezon City and in Manila died either due to heat stroke or illnesses made worse by overcrowding and lack of health and sanitation facilities.[2]

How can such incidents happen in a place where police officers are supposed to look after the safety and security of persons under their custody? How can they claim to be protectors of the people when the people feel fear rather than security when under the grip of their power? How can we rejoice at their proclaimed triumph over criminality when ordinary citizens, whose only fault is to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, are shoved into jail because someone very powerful ordered a crackdown on loiterers and alleged criminals.

The prohibition of torture in the Philippines is absolute in the same way that law enforcers are proscribed from using unlawful violence or for allowing acts of cruelty and ill treatment to pass in their presence. The Constitution mandates that no one shall be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment. In fulfillment of its state policy and international obligation, the Philippine Government signed into law Republic Act No. 9745 also known as “An Act Penalizing Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Prescribing Penalties Therefore” or the Anti-Torture Law on November 10, 2009. Its implementing guidelines were approved in 2010.

Yet torture as an act of violence persists. From 2016-2017, Balay has documented 32 accounts of torture, 69% of the incidents took place in the course of the government’s drive against criminality and illegal drugs, with 41% of the cases recorded in the National Capital Region (NCR). Thirty-one percent of the cases happened in the context of the government’s campaign against insurgency and terrorism in Basilan and North Cotabato in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Males and boys account for 97% of all victims. Minors constitute 47% of all victims.

Balay has also monitored from various sources a total of 24 cases of torture in 2017, with 58% of the cases reported to be connected to the government’s war-on-drugs. Ninety-two percent of the victims are male, and mostly between the 25-50 age group. Most of the incidents happened in the NCR (63%). Police officers account for 69% of alleged perpetrators in the torture incidents.

The Commission on Human Rights has been investigating most of those torture reports. But factors that discouraged torture victims from filing a formal complaint include fear of reprisal (particularly for those who are in jail or in police lock up cell), lack of knowledge on justice-seeking procedures, inconvenience, costly and slow process of litigation, distrust in justice system.

The statement of President Duterte that the relatives of the those who died will never get justice as he will not allow a single policeman accused of breaking the rule of law to go to jail is a chilling reminder on how tragic it is to be poor and powerless in society today.

As we commemorate the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture which marks the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture on June 26, 1987, we ask for an end to violence, torture, and impunity. We urge government to engage in a meaningful dialogue with civil society and the public.

BALAY Rehabilitation Center, Inc. is an organization that practices psychosocial rehabilitation for torture victims and their families and is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights.

[1] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/982044/heat-congestion-blamed-for-pasay-inmates-death#ixzz5IOElDeCn

[2] https://www.philstar.com/nation/2018/06/02/1820763/2-inmates-die-manila-quezon-city

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

Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT XII) -UATC

Torture is abhorrent. Torture is illegal. Yet torture is inflicted on men, women and children in the Philippines and well over half the countries around the world. Despite the universal condemnation of torture, it is still being used openly and secretly using national and international security from acts of terror as justifications for such acts. It is used to extract confession, to interrogate, to punish or to intimidate. While governments condemn terrorist acts, it is also evident that acts of terror are happening inside detention centers and prison cells, on city streets and in remote villages. The cruelty of torturers kills, maims, and leave scars on the body and mind that last a lifetime. The victims of torture are not just people in the hands of the torturers. Friends, families and the wider community all suffer. Torture even damages and distorts and the hopes of future generations.

In the Philippines, in spite of strong provisions enshrined in the Philippine Constitution prohibiting the use of torture, its criminalization as provided for by Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law of 2009, and the country having been a state party to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) since 1987 and the Optional Protocol to Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) since 2012, the act remains widely used and accepted today. Only one perpetrator, Police Officer Jerrick Dee, has been convicted of the crime while many others remain “untouched” by the legal system as they continue to operate with impunity.

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

This coming June 26, the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), spearheaded by Amnesty International Philippines (AIPH), Balay Rehabilitation Center (BALAY), Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND), Medical Action Group (MAG), the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP, will once again join the international community to commemorate the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture and contribute to the global campaign to prevent and stop the practice of torture in all corners of the world as codified in the UNCAT 34 years ago.

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

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

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

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

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[Featured Site] Asia Alliance Against Torture

Asia Alliance Against Torture
http://antitortureasia.org/

Asia has high diversity on ethnicity, religion, and economic strata. These facts have been used by many authorities to compromised the violence for the one single order, despite maintaining the diversity. To this end, torture and other form of violence took place in many situations in Asia. The practice of torture has a long historical record. Many entities have been working to combat torture, such as survivor organizations, advocates, NGOs or even politician. However, none of them have been working specifically to combat torture in Asia region thoroughly.

Regardless campaign and legal challenges are raising widely; conscience is improving to minimize the practice of torture in Asia among the states. Many of them are abide or take parties to international standard which contained the prohibition of torture, such as

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Convention Against Torture, International Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and many more. Below is the list of the countries in Asia who
already ratified the Convention Against Torture.

The challenges are the implementation, either at the national level and at the international level to provide the report to the Committee Against Torture (CAT) as part of the ratification the CAT. At the national level, some of advocate, have indicated from their works that practice of torture deeply still took places with in the Asia countries. To this matter, since 2015, with the support of Open Society
Foundation, hold 3 rounds of discussions in Bali (Indonesia) and Kathmandu (Nepal) to discuss and checks the how torture happens and faced especially from the strategic litigation point of view. Torture is an issue that lacks public knowledge and needs to come

to the fore on the human rights agenda. This issue also needs to be socialized within the community so people are aware of its occurrence, the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of states in the face of this most heinous of human rights abuse.

In this context, solidarity is very important for and among victims, human rights defenders and the organizations they work for. Human rights defenders and the organizations are coming under significant pressure and work in dangerous and threatening environments. It is therefore important that support is provided in the form of having networks with others.

Upon the situation above, various NGOs from the Asia region initiated to build a coalition to combat torture specifically amongst the Asia countries. Asia Alliance Against Torture can have a positive impact on addressing thematic priorities of UN mechanisms, better leverage for UN advocacy level, also the fact finding mission and making a joint report would be very good for the network.

Visit  Asia Alliance Against Torture @http://antitortureasia.org/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the UN

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

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

At the FIFDH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media contact: Lori Brumat lb@omct.org

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

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[From the web] Anti-Torture Coalition denounces Marcos burial like a “thief in the night”-UATC

Anti-Torture Coalition denounces Marcos burial like a “thief in the night”

uatc logoA network of civil society organizations which advocate for the eradication of torture and ill treatment in the Philippines has likened the  sudden manner of the burial of the late deposed  dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LnmB) today as a “thief in the night.”

The United against Torture Coalition (UATC) said that the swiftness of the Marcos’s internment tend to belie the claim of the dictator’s family and their supporters that there is a popular support for the decision to bury him in the LnmB.

“Once again, the public was caught by surprise just like the time when the entire country was placed by Marcos under martial law. That kind of  stealth is characteristic of a thief who strikes in the dead of night when the victims are unaware,” the UATC spokesperson, Kaloy Anasarias, said.

Read full article @balayph.net

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

Dr. June Lopez reelected to Anti-Torture Treaty Body

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

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

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

Seven new members were elected:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[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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.

[Press release] Not one more victim of torture, UATC urge

Not one more victim of torture, UATC urge

Photo by UATC

Photo by UATC

uatc logo“The Philippines has one of the smallest police-to-population ratios in the world, an overstretched force, predisposed to taking ‘shortcuts’ during arrests and criminal investigations,is the breeding ground for officers who resort to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in carrying out their jobs,”the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC) said during their annual ‘Basta! Run Against Torture!’(BRAT) activity on 25 June in Quezon City.

“There are only 150,000 police officers serving 100 million Filipinos – this has been one of the perennial problems in our law enforcement that past administrations failed to address, but one that has played an important part of President-elect Duterte’s platform on peace and order during his campaign,” said UATC spokesperson, Joy Lascano.

The UATC supports President-elect Duterte’s intention of straightening up the Philippine National Police (PNP) ranks to enable the institution to effectively address crime.

“Such a goal can only be achieved by complementing efforts of not just recruiting more individuals into the force but improving the institution’s training and operational framework.  President Duterte also need to change his rhetoric by sending out a clear message that all law enforcement officials should abide by international law and standards, the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 and their own operational procedures in arrest and interrogation of suspects as well as the rules of engagement,” explained Lascano.

UATC also emphasized that the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 will complement the efforts of the Duterte Administration towards professionalizing the PNP.

“State security forces, being the ones tasked to administer law and order should be the last ones to break the law by committing crimes and excesses such as torture. The respect for the Rule of Law must be cornerstone of PNP modernization and professionalization,” she added.

The coalition enumerated a number of reasons why law enforcement resort to torture. UATC acknowledges that these challenges are real and called on the members of the security forces present in their event to identify and effectively address

“There is a lack of awareness among members of the security forces regarding the requirements of human rights law in arrest and detention procedures. The perception that human rights are a hindrance to solving “real social problems” such as criminality should be countered as well as the notion that human rights only focus on the rights of “criminals” rather than on victims of crime. Some members of the police force are also over-zealous, the desire to show the public and their superiors that results are produced and that perpetrators are caught with minimum delay. Torture becomes a means for law enforcement to get the information they need, but this is not good policing work. The notion of acceptable ‘collateral damage’ in the struggle to curb crime and accomplish the “mission” at all costs also hinders proper enforcement of the law,” said Lascano.

UATC called on the incoming President to send an unreserved strong public statement that Torture and Ill-Treatment enabled by operational shortcuts and irregularities will not be tolerated, that all allegations of torture will be taken seriously.

“We ask President-elect Duterte to direct all institutions tasked to address the practice of torture, under the law, to have the determination to cooperate towards ensuring that institutional safeguards work, perpetrators are brought to justice, witnesses are protected and restitution to those who have experienced the ordeal employed. The UATC will stay vigilant in ensuring that not one more victim suffers from torture. We will continue to monitor that perpetrators are held accountable, due diligence is reinforced, safeguards are in place towards prevention of torture and a comprehensive rehabilitation program for victims and perpetrators are implemented.”  concluded Lascano.

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[From the web] Committee against Torture calls on the Philippines to fully implement rehabilitation programme – IRCT.org

Committee against Torture calls on the Philippines to fully implement rehabilitation programme

irct_logo_209The UN Committee against Torture is calling on the Government of the Philippines to fully implement a national rehabilitation programme, to ensure effective investigations into torture allegations and to make a public statement at the highest level that torture will not be tolerated. The recommendations follow a two-day hearing in Geneva where the Committee carefully scrutinised the performance of the Philippine Government in eradicating torture.

As part of the hearings, IRCT members Balay Rehabilitation Centre (Balay) and Medical Action Group (MAG) produced extensive background information on rehabilitation, investigation and prosecution for torture and travelled to Geneva to brief the Committee on their key concerns. Greatly appreciated by the Committee, Balay and MAG’s input was extensively utilised by the Committee in its assessment.

Among the key recommendations addressed to the Philippines are:

To ensure that allegations of torture are effectively investigated through training on the Istanbul Protocol and protection of medical professionals documenting torture and ill-treatment and systematically pursuing command responsibility command responsibility in all cases where the direct perpetrator cannot be identified.
To implement the ban on the use of blindfolding of detainees and ensure that rules of evidence allow for non-visual identification of perpetrators.
To implement the rehabilitation programme by designating a lead agency, making adequate budgetary provisions for the programme, and by ensuring rigorous monitoring and evaluation.
To strengthen the Witness Protection Program (WPP) by giving high priority to the funding of the program and providing expanded rights and benefits to prospective witnesses and to ensure that it affords effective protection against reprisals and other harassment to all witnesses.
To immediately convene the Inter-Agency Committee so that it can start fulfilling its role as the oversight mechanism for the full implementation of the Anti-Torture Act.

The Committee’s recommendations provide a blueprint for the Philippine Government to start effectively implementing its own laws and thereby take important steps towards eradicating torture.

“For many years we have been concerned that the implementation of the Anti-Torture Act is not moving fast enough and is yet to produce real change for victims. We are therefore very pleased to see the Committee raise these issues in very detailed and targeted recommendations. This is the result of Balay and MAG’s tireless efforts and we look forward to continuing our work with them to ensure effective investigations and access to rehabilitation for all torture victims in the Philippines,” said IRCT Advocacy Director, Asger Kjaerum

Source: www.irct.org

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[Urgent Appeal] Torture and Killing of Indigenous People -TFDP

URGENT APPEAL
April 13, 2016
(PHILIPPINES) Torture and Killing of Indigenous People

ISSUES: Assertion of right to life; freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
______________________________________________________________________________

Dear friends,

TFDP logo smallThe Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the torture and killing of three indigenous people.

If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP, kindly send email to tfdp.1974@gmail.com.
______________________________________________________________________________

Title: Kipad, Oto, and Mopak TOR, EJK
Case: Torture and Extra-Judicial Killing
Victims: Ruel Falito Kipad, 39 years old
Tono Silongan Oto, 39 years old
Martinez Lagay Mopak, 26 years old
Date of Incident: February 12, 2016; 2:00 A.M.
Place of Incident: Sitio Kuhan, Barangay Upper Sepaka, Surallah, South Cotabato
Alleged Perpetrators:Composite members of Regional Public Safety Battalion, Special Investigation and Detection Team and Special Action Force of Region 12
Motive: Suspected Drug Pushers
Rights Violated: Right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and right to life
______________________________________________________________________
Account of the incident:

On February 12, 2016 around 2:00 a.m., a composite team composed of members of the Regional Public Safety Battalion, the Special Investigation and Detection Team, and the Special Action Force of Region 12 raided five houses of T’boli-B’laan tribe members in Sitio Kuhan, Barangay Upper Sepaka, Surallah, South Cotabato. The raid resulted in the death of Ruel Kipad, 39 years old, Tono Oto, 39, and Martinez Mopak, 26.

According to Angelita Kipad, she and her husband Ruel were awakened by gun shots and loud bangs on their door. When they asked who were outside, they were ordered to get out of their house. When they opened the door, they saw armed men in seven-color uniforms without name tags wearing bonnets. The couple asked the men who they were but they did not receive any reply. They went out of the house while guns were pointed at them.

Ruel raised both hands. He was ordered to kneel on the ground. He was then handcuffed behind his back. Angelita embraced her husband and told the armed men not to kill him. She also asked what his husband’s offense was.

The men asked Ruel about the group he belonged to. He answered that he is a member of the Guardians International–Surallah Chapter. He added that he was a barangay health worker for twelve years and he is now working as a motorcycle driver transporting charcoal. The police told Ruel that he is a liar because he is armed and a member of a bandit who sells drugs. He denied the allegations.

The couple again asked the men who they were. The men replied that they are from the “region” and asked Ruel if he knew one of the policemen who was with them. Ruel answered that he did not know any of them.

Five policemen took Angelita away from her husband. From a distance, she saw that while her husband was being questioned, a dagger was being pressed onto his shoulder. She shouted for the policemen to stop, but she was dragged farther from her husband.

When the policemen went away, Angelita went nearer to where her husband was. She saw that while her husband was in a stooping position, he was shot twice. Angelita was shocked and afraid. The police saw her and dragged her away. She asked if her husband was already dead. They replied that they only gave him a warning so that her husband will admit his membership to the Sipot Gang and identify the other members in the area. Angelita told them that her husband is not a gang member.

She said that after the policemen shot her husband, the other policemen went to the neighboring houses and fired at them. She pleaded for them to stop since her children and the sick elderly were inside the house. The police did not hear her. They went inside the house and dragged the children and brought them to her.

After 30 minutes, a police vehicle with number 03 on the hood arrived and approached Angelita’s house. She saw the policemen carry something to the vehicle, and then went away.

After an hour, the police called Angelita and told her to come near her house since the barangay officials have arrived. When she got there, she looked for her husband but she did not find him. She saw that there was blood on the ground. There was also a grenade, a gun, and his husband’s wallet containing methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu).
Angelita cried and told the police that she now understood why she was brought away from her husband, and that was because they would plant evidences against him. She asked where her husband was, and the police answered that he was brought to the hospital. Angelita told the police that she will file a case against them for what they did.

At around 5:00 a.m., she went to the hospital in Surallah. When she arrived at the hospital, she was informed that her husband was already dead and his body was already at the funeral home.

When Angelita found her husband’s body, she saw that there were stab wounds on his face and shoulder. There were also gunshot wounds to his back and stomach.

In the same incident, Amy Oto and her family were sleeping in their house when they heard someone breaking into their fence. After a minute, a loud bang on their door was heard. Her whole family was awakened. They asked the identity of the persons outside but they received no reply. When they asked if they were policemen, someone answered that they were only doing their job and they were just obeying the orders of their superiors.

Her two children got very scared and jumped outside from the window. The police shot at them. Amy shouted for the police to spare her children, but the police did not heed her request.

The police went inside their house and instructed Amy’s husband Tono Oto and his nephew Martinez Mopak to duck on the floor. The police asked them to what group they belonged to. Their heads were stomped while their faces were pressed against the pillows. They were handcuffed and beaten with the butts of long firearms. They were forced to admit who they really were. Martinez who is deaf and mute did not answer. Tono, because of shock, was not able to reply as well. Amy and her children were all crying as they were ordered to get out of the house.

The policemen asked Amy if they have relatives nearby. She answered yes and pointed to the houses of her relatives. She went with the policemen to the houses of her relatives, but when they were a few steps away, she heard two gun shots from her house.

She shrieked in fear and called her husband but there was no answer. Since their house was already wrecked, she saw what went on inside her house. She saw a policeman pull out something from the pocket of his trouser and placed it on the floor. Amy asked the police if they killed her husband because he was not moving anymore. She asked them what crime he committed. The police told her to stay calm because her husband was not dead, and just had a minor cut. The police again told her that they were only doing their job and following orders from their superiors.

Tono and Martinez were brought to the police vehicle, and then the vehicle sped away. The police told Amy that her husband and his nephew will be brought to the hospital.

The police showed Amy search warrants for the houses of Luis Bangon and Ruel Kipad and asked her where their houses were. She pointed at their houses. The police then asked her for her husband’s name and she replied. The police told her that they had no warrant to search her house. When Amy asked them why they included her house in the raid, the police said that they just made a mistake. Amy told them that she will file a case against them. The police did not say anything.

The police then called Amy to enter her house. The barangay officials were also inside her house when one of the policemen asked his companions if there was a junior officer among them. A junior officer went in. When he saw a short firearm on the floor, he picked it up. Amy was surprised when the police told her that they did not own the gun. She realized that it was planted evidence against her husband.

After the incident, she went to the hospital in Surallah to check on her husband and his nephew. When she arrived, she was informed that both were already at the morgue. Her husband’s wrists were broken and had a gunshot wound in the abdomen. Martinez also had three gunshot wounds in his body.

Both Angelita and Amy are mourning the loss of their husbands. They said that they will fight for justice. Amy said that she pities Martinez very much for she was sure that he did not understand what was happening. Angelita and Amy had a hard time recovering the bodies because they did not have enough money to pay for the funeral home services. The bodies were laid to rest after a week.

During the incident, the police raided five houses with eleven families in Sitio Kuhan. The residents said that they were very scared when the raid happened. The children and the elderly were traumatized after the incident.

The police also arrested four alleged members of Sipot gang from Sitio Kuhan and Sitio Matampak through a search warrant issued by RTC Branch 38 signed by Judge Oscar Noel, Jr. of Polomolok, South Cotabato. The suspects were T’boli and B’laan tribe members.

REQUESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the authorities, calling on them to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation on the torture done by security forces that resulted in the deaths of Ruel Kipad, Tono Oto, and Martinez Opak in Sitio Kuhan, Barangay Upper Sepaka, Surallah, South Cotabato and to urge concerned agencies to immediately resolve the case and give justice to the victims.
SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ____________,

I am writing to draw your attention to the case of three indigenous people who were tortured and later killed.

I have learned that on February 12, 2016 around 2:00 a.m., a composite team composed of members of the Regional Public Safety Battalion, the Special Investigation and Detection Team, and the Special Action Force of Region 12, raided five houses of T’boli-B’laan tribe members in Sitio Kuhan, Barangay Upper Sepaka, Surallah, South Cotabato.

Security forces had a warrant to search the houses of alleged Sipot gang members in the said area. The raid resulted in the torture and death of Ruel Kipad, 39 years old, Tono Oto, 39, and Martinez Mopak, 26.

It has been brought to my attention that Ruel Kipad was ordered to get out from his house and ordered to kneel on the ground while the security forces interrogated him. While being questioned, he was forced to admit that he was a gang member. His shoulder was pierced with a dagger and he was later shot twice that led to his death.

I was also informed that during the raid, Tono Oto and Martinez Mopak were stomped on their heads while their faces were pressed in the pillows. They were then handcuffed and beaten using the butt of a rifle. They were also forced to admit being gang members and later shot to death.

Philippine Republic Act 9745 Section 2(b) provides that, “…the human rights of all persons, including suspects, detainees and prisoners are respected at all times; and that no person placed under investigation or held in custody of any person in authority or, agent of a person authority shall be subjected to physical, psychological or mental harm, force, violence, threat or intimidation or any act that impairs his/her free will or in any manner demeans or degrades human dignity.”

With this, I urge the Philippine authorities to promptly and impartially investigate this case and ensure that the perpetrators will be prosecuted and punished in accordance with the law and that the torture and deaths of Kipad, Oto, and Mopak will be given justice.

I look forward to you urgent action.

Respectfully yours,

_______________________

Please send your letters to:

Hon. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace
JP Laurel St. San Miguel, Manila
Philippines 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Email: op@president.gov.ph

Police Director General Ricardo C. Marquez
Chief, Philippine National Police
PNP National Headquarters
Camp General Crame
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: +632 724 8763 / +632 723 0401
Tel: + 632 726 4361 / +632 4366 8763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

Police Chief Supt. Dennis Siervo
Chief, PNP Human Rights Affairs Office
Tel: +632 650 2794/ +632 723 0401 loc 3668/3678
Email: pnphrao@gmail.com

Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Philippines
Fax: +63 2929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188

Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
Chairperson
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
Email: chairpersonsoffice@gmail.com

 

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[Off-the-shelf] Joint Civil Society Report on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in the Philippines, submitted by the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)

uatc logoThis Joint Civil Society Report on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in the Philippines, submitted by the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)- Philippines to the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) for its consideration during its deliberation of the report of the Government of the Philippines in its 57th Session on April 18- May 13, 2016.

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1011&Lang=en

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[Press Release] Medical doctors presses for right to rehabilitation of victims of torture -MAG

Medical doctors presses for right to rehabilitation of victims of torture

Photo by MAG

Photo by MAG

Around eighty (80) medical doctors across the country gathered today in the Scientific Conference on the Management and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims on November 11-12, 2015 at the Ciudad Christia Resort, in San Mateo, Rizal.

mag logo new

The conference also entitled, Mainstreaming Human Rights in Health Care, is being organized by the Medical Action Group (MAG) http://magph.org/ and the Department of Health (DOH). This will highlight current initiatives being implemented in the Philippines to promote right to rehabilitation of torture victims (survivors).

Attending the conference are city and municipal health officers who has an essential role in preventing torture by effective medical documentation of torture cases and they are among the first persons to come into contact with a torture victim or survivor after alleged torture incident.

“There is a need to raise awareness and level of knowledge of doctors in government service on Republic Act No. 9745 otherwise known as the Anti-Torture Law http://www.congress.gov.ph/download/ra_14/RA09745.pdf. The law details what constitute torture and ill treatment, the doctors’ legal obligations specifically the documentation and medical reporting of alleged victims of torture or ill treatment, and the mechanics of effective referral among agencies concerned in the daunting task of holistic rehabilitation,” said Dr. Criselda G. Abesamis, Director IV, DOH Health Facility Development Bureau.

DOH Assistant Secretary Gerardo Bayugo stressed in order to ensure effective redress for victims of torture entails the duty to provide rehabilitation for victims through institutionalization of the use of the Istanbul Protocol or the UN Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/training8Rev1en.pdf, develop protocol in the treatment of torture victims based on the Istanbul Protocol particularly through effective implementation of the DOH Administrative Order No. 2013-0008 http://www.doh.gov.ph/ Guidelines for the implementation of Section 19 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Law, upgrade of laboratory facilities of the DOH and other health facilities, and ensure effective referral mechanism.

“Despite the country has the Anti-Torture Law but we have cases and first-hand experiences uncovering its limitation and flaw which undermines the right of the survivors to medical care and rehabilitation,” Dr. Marie Therese C. Galang, MAG Chairperson added.

Galang concluded this conference which will tackle the growing challenges on rehabilitation confronting the torture survivors is significant on our part to learn from experiences of medical doctors in their day to day work in the treatment of torture survivors and in promoting right to rehabilitation of victims of torture.

The conference press the government that effective rehabilitation services and programs are established in the country and are accessible to all torture victims and survivors, as government’s obligation under the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Press release
November 11, 2015

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[From the web] Trauma of torture victims should not be overlooked amid migration challenges, UN experts remind States -OHCHR

Trauma of torture victims should not be overlooked amid migration challenges, UN experts remind States

Call comes for UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June

GENEVA (24 JUNE 2015) – Amid the upsurge in migration around the world, it is vital that States ensure that people fleeing torture are immediately identified to avoid exposing them to further trauma, ill-treatment or being forcibly returned, UN human rights experts have stressed in comments to mark the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June.

ohchr

“Torture is always an emergency and it is vital that victims of torture, who may have suffered traumatic events in their country of origin and during their journey, get immediate support and care to prevent, as far as possible, irreversible physical and psychological harm,” said Adam Bodnar, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the UN Fund for Victims of Torture.

The UN experts said that migration authorities should ensure that any measures they take do not further traumatise victims; there should be alternatives to detention; reception centres should comply with international human rights standards; and migrants and asylum seekers should be individually assessed, including on their need for protection.

“Migrants need to be treated in accordance with accepted international standards and protected from treatment which might be inhuman and degrading,” said Malcolm Evans, Chairperson of the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture. “We must protect vulnerable people, not victimise them,” he added.

“People should be afforded the same standards of protection against violations of the Convention against Torture, regardless of how or when they arrived in a country,” said Claudio Grossman, Chairperson of the Committee against Torture.

The experts also reminded States of the principle of non-refoulement as set out in the Convention against Torture.

“The significance of non-refoulement is that it applies to all, even people who may not qualify as refugees or asylum seekers. States must separately assess the risk of torture and refrain from deporting anyone to a place where he or she would be at risk of torture,” said UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez.

—–

(*) The joint statement was issued by the UN Committee against Torture, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16135&LangID=E#sthash.yemoCLsP.dpuf

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16135&LangID=E

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[Press Release] Not alone, never forgotten -UATC

Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT IX) photo by Egay

Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT IX) photo by Egay

UNITED AGAINST TORTURE COALITION
Press Release
27 June 2015

Not alone, never forgotten

Activists all over the world took to the streets to demand justice for torture survivors on International Day for Victims of Torture. In the Philippines, the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC) conducted its 9th BRAT! or Basta! Run Against Torture with more than 700 runners from government agencies, civil society groups and human rights organizations.

uatc logo

BRAT! was the brainchild of running priest and activist, Fr. Robert Reyes in 2002. It served as the launching pad of the UATC’s national campaign against torture. The objective then to make public the condemnation of torture in the context of the war against terror, prevent the use of torture through the ratification of the OPCAT – which the government subsequently signed August of 2008, and to pass an anti-torture law which we achieved in 2009.

“Looking back at our efforts all these years in declaring torture as a human rights violation, in criminalizing torture, for protecting citizens from torture and rehabilitation of victims – we truly have come a long way in influencing Congress and our legal system towards this end. But, then again, looking at the number of torture cases and the number of people tortured by government – the results of all our work in stopping torture in reality have been overshadowed by the continued use of this abhorrent act. More than a decade after the first BRAT and five years after the passage of the law, no perpetrator has been brought to justice”, explained Ellecer Carlos, UATC spokesperson.

Photo by Egay/TFDP

Photo by Egay/TFDP

“We did not expect a dramatic drop in cases of torture at the start of the Aquino administration but we wanted to see a steady trend of declining cases of government agents torturing citizens under their custody, pointing towards a clear and unmistakable progress towards eradication of torture. This is our last run under the Aquino presidency, and this is a run of disappointment – for the missed opportunity in taking a giant step in stomping out torture in the Philippines in the last five years” added Carlos.

“On the last year of the Aquino presidency, we urge the President to use his remaining months to instill upon all levels of government that torture is a human rights violation and a crime punishable by law. No one should intentionally be subjected to severe pain and suffering when in the custody of any government agent or under their instructions. Perpetration of torture must not be tolerated by anyone in government and perpetrators must be punished”, Carlos pointed out.

“UATC is emphasizing five calls for this year’s BRAT! – ending impunity and ensuring accountability, rehabilitation and remedies must be in place; maintaining that nothing justifies torture; making sure that all safeguards work; promoting solidarity and cooperation among stakeholders; and, last but not least committing to full prevention of torture,” Carlos explained.

In spite of strong provisions enshrined in the Philippine Constitution prohibiting the use of torture, its criminalization as provided for by Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law of 2009, and the Philippines having been a state party to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) since 1987, torture remains widely used and accepted today.

“The concept of the right to be free from torture eludes the general public and disappointingly, government representatives and state security forces as well. Evident of this situation is the now infamous ‘’wheel of torture” found in an alleged ‘torture chamber’ in a police station in Biñan, Laguna. Aside from extracting information from suspects detained at the police station, the police allegedly used torture to entertain themselves when they are drinking or when they are drunk,” said Carlos.

The UATC believes that in order to see the decline of the practice of torture in the country, it is important that all members of society become informed of this right that is inherent to all individuals.

“All places where people are deprived of their liberty, no matter how big or small, near or far, must be placed under the lens of scrutiny to finally stop this inhumane practice. ‘Krimen ang torture’ – this is our battle cry. The ratification of OPCAT, passage of the law or the efforts towards the enactment of a National Committee on the Prevention of Torture are all positive changes towards ending torture but without breaking the chain of impunity or holding perpetrators to account, torture will still prevail,” reiterated Carlos.

The UATC will focus on addressing the need to implement RA 9745 in its fullest extent centering on accountability and rehabilitation as the important aspects of the law that need focus, the adoption of a National Committee for the Prevention of Torture in the country to prevent acts of torture in places of where persons are deprived of their liberty, and the need for solidarity and cooperation from all stakeholders in the fight against torture to finally put an end to the use of this abhorrent act.

This year’s BRAT! enjoined government agencies and members of the government security sector tasked in the implementation and the promotion of the Anti-Torture Law into a symbolic commitment setting led by torture victim survivors from different presidential eras to foster cooperation and solidarity in ensuring that the Philippines and the world see an end to the use of torture.

———

The United Against Torture Coalition Philippines (UATC) is a coalition of more than 30 human rights, women’s rights, children rights, political and grassroots organizations working towards ending the use of torture in the Philippines. The Steering Committee Members of the UATC are Amnesty International Philippines (AIPH), Balay Rehabilitation Center (BALAY), Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND), Medical Action Group (MAG), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).

– See more at: http://www.amnesty.org.ph/news/brat-ix-krimen-ang-torture/#sthash.0O5jhVWt.dpuf

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[Statement] Breaking the silence from torture impunity -MAG

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

Breaking the silence from torture impunity

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

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

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

mag logo new

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

Yet, no one is punished for committing torture.

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

Once tortured is tortured for life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRAT IX

On June 27, join Amnesty International Philippines
in Basta Run Against Torture (BRAT)!
bit.ly/aiph_events

The United Nations International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture (IDSVT) is commemorated around the world on the 26th of June every year. This year, Amnesty International, will focus on combating impunity and ensuring accountability of perpetrators and duty bearers,
building on safeguards for the prevention of torture and giving importance to the rehabilitation aspects for victims and perpetrators alike.

In solidarity with torture victims-survivors, and with the call for justice around the globe, Amnesty International Philippines together with the United Against Torture Coalition invites you to Basta Run Against Torture (BRAT). In its 9th run this year, BRAT will be joined by
government agencies tasked in the implementation and the promotion of the Anti-Torture Law.

To be led by torture victim survivors from different presidential eras, BRAT IX will carry the slogan “KRIMEN ANG TORTURE!”.

BASTA RUN AGAINST TORTURE IX (BRAT IX): KRIMEN ANG TORTURE

June 27 (Saturday) | 7:00am – 9:00am
Assembly Time: 6:30am
Assembly Venue: In Front of the Commission on Human Rights Office
(Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City)
*The Run will start at exactly 7:00am.

Participants are asked to wear BLUE shirts in accordance to the event motif.

Please confirm your attendance on or before June 26, 12:00nn.

This event is FREE and OPEN TO ALL.

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[Press Release] Torture in the Philippines over the past 30 years -APT

Torture in the Philippines over the past 30 years
Global research on the prevention of torture: Presentation of country study

What are the key factors that can reduce torture and ill-treatment? This question has been the focus of a three-year research project, based on 16 country studies from all regions of the world. On Tuesday 17 March, Atty. Ricardo Sunga, University of the Philippines,presented the research project and gave an overview of the situation in the country.

APT

17 March 2015.The research project was commissioned in 2011 by the Geneva-based Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and carried out by a team of independent researchers under the leadership of Professor Richard Carver, Oxford Brookes University, UK. The research focuses on whether preventive measures – such as an appropriate legal framework, monitoring of places of detention and access to lawyers – have had an impact on the prevalence of torture over a period of 30 years. Apart from the Philippines, research partners have studied the situation in Argentina, Chile, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The Philippines’ country study was conducted by Atty. Ricardo Sunga, a legal and human rights expert from the Human Rights Institute of the University of the Philippines. Atty. Sunga has now, for the first time, presenting his work and findings regarding torture in the Philippines, from 1985 to 2013. Torture was at its peak at the beginning of the period, at the tail end of the regime of president Ferdinand Marcos. Torture decreased slightly following the end of the Marcos regime, though its frequency, severity and geographical spread remained high. Atty. Ricardo Sunga has specifically focused on the legal developments around criminalization of torture, leading to the adoption of the Anti-Torture Act in 2009 and the growing potential of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights as an independent complaints and monitoring mechanism.

The complete, global research report will be published in 2016. The findings are of great importance and will help design more effective strategies to prevent torture, in the Philippines and internationally.

The research presentation took place in conjunction to another important gathering on the prevention of torture and ill-treatment– a national forum on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, which the Philippines ratified in 2012. The meeting was organised by the United Against Torture Coalition, the Commission on Human Rights and the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights.

For more information, please contact:
Ms. Shazeera Zawawi, Association for the Prevention of Torture (www.apt.ch) +639062775853, szawawi@apt.ch
Atty. Ricardo Sunga, Human Rights Institute of the University of the Philippines, +639178542124.

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[Statement] MAG’s Position Paper on the Proposed Law Establishing the National Preventive Mechanism

[Note] MAG’s Position Paper on the Proposed Law Establishing the National Preventive Mechanism.
by dars0357.wordpress.com

The Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture (OPCAT) establishes “a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

MAG

The setting up of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) as one or several visiting bodies designated or maintained, at the domestic level, is in fact already long overdue as the Philippines is obligated to establish this preventive system within one year from its ratification of the OPCAT in 2012.

Nonetheless, the Medical Action Group (MAG) welcomes the on-going legislative process at the House of Representatives for the enactment of the NPM to complement the implementation of Republic Act No. 9745 or the “Anti Torture Law of 2009”. This piece of legislation seeks to prevent the act of torture and other forms of ill-treatment and to complete the necessary protection mechanism to end torture impunity.

While the OPCAT does not specify a specific form or structure for the NPM and the states are free to designate one or several new or existing bodies as their NPMs. It does however provide minimum requirements for the NPM according to which it should be:

  • Independent (its function, personal and institutional capacity);
  • Provided with sufficient resources (financial, human, logistical or material);
  • Have the expertise necessary to fulfil its mandate;
  • Have powers and guarantees, in particular access to all places of deprivation of liberty, information and persons; and
  • Enjoy privileges and immunities (i.e. protection from sanctions and confidentiality of information).

One of the possible organizational forms that the NPM can take is the designation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the CHR is to ‘exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities. But these are merely general visitorial powers. However, the visiting mandate of the NPM is specifically aimed at the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and has particular features prescribed by the OPCAT for unrestricted and unannounced visits. Thus, the NPM should be proactive and non-adversarial in its approach.

The MAG is fully supporting the proposed set up reflected in House Bill No. 5193 authored by Reps. Kit Belmonte and Barry Gutierrez for the establishment of the NPM as an attached agency to the CHR. An attached body to the CHR can make possible the diversity of expertise, but also gender balance and the adequate representation of ethnic and minority groups.

Nonetheless, whatever form the NPM may take, what is essential is that the NPM can carry out its mandate to conduct regular visits to all places of detentions without restriction. Their visits should lead to reports and concrete recommendations to improve the protection of persons deprived of liberty. After which, an annual report on their activities and their findings must be published after consultations with relevant government agencies and non-government organizations. The NPM can also give comments on relevant laws and regulations and propose for necessary reforms.

However, the setting up of the NPM should not be limited to legal consideration as it also involves health issues. The MAG believes that the participation of medical and health professionals in these visiting mechanisms is essential to address health issues related to torture and ill-treatment, examines and gives treatment to detainees, recommending actions to be taken to improve the treatment of detainees, to evaluate the health system and to assess the impact of general conditions of detention on the heath of detained population.

The United Nations Manual on the effective investigation and documentation of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (or ‘Istanbul Protocol’) was developed to specifically use for torture documentation using scientific evidence based gathering. The Istanbul Protocol is now an internationally recognized guideline for medical and legal experts. It can be used as a tool to gather and document accurate and reliable evidence in connection with cases where torture is alleged and to help practitioners to assess the consistency between allegations and medical findings.

The medical professionals are in essence a key to prevent torture impunity. The medical documentation and medico-legal reports (MLR) that they write are important facts that can be used as pieces of evidence in legal or administrative proceeding for prosecuting torture cases and facilitating redress and reparation for survivors. It is therefore important to increase the capacity of medical practitioners in evaluating the physical and medical conditions of persons deprived of liberty using of the Istanbul Protocol. Thus, the Department of Health (DoH) needs to take an active role in the work of the NPM.

While the Republic Act (RA) No. 9745 or Anti-Torture Law has a number of strong provisions relating to victim’s access to a physical, medical and psychological examination, but until now, torture victims still rarely have access to a legal counsel and a medical doctor immediately after arrest and during detention. And even if investigating authorities guarantee the access to medical examination, the lack of formal knowledge and capacity of the medical doctors who are often among the first persons to come into contact with torture survivors creates a medical complicity as some doctors don’t perform the medical examination properly and diligently either due to low awareness on torture documentation or because of the intimidation or the fear of reprisal from the government authorities.

Thus in many cases, the investigations concerning allegations of torture are either completely unreliable. In some cases, medical examination is only allowed after inquest as torture victims were only seen by doctors assigned to any police or military health centers or to government hospitals who often just do cursory “check list” physical examinations with no inquiries about how torture marks may have been inflicted and the medical certificates have no reference to torture and the need for medical treatment.

Prevention of torture must also go hand in hand with prison reform. Prison condition as MAG observed is the most punishing aspect of doing time in jails. The general prison conditions are not only found dangerous to health and to human life. It breeds diseases, breaks down of one’s sanity and exacerbates tensions among inmates. Sexual violence and abuse are also being reported rampant in the correctional and custodial system. This is despite the passage of the Republic Act 10575 or the Prison Modernization Act of 2013. Major reforms must be undertaken that could give prison inmates a chance at rehabilitation and a meaningful life after imprisonment.

MAG has been advocating for prison reform for the past three decades. We have in fact submitted a recommendation to the Office of the Executive Secretary in 2011 on the Amended Guidelines for Recommending Executive Clemency particularly on Section 3 regarding Extraordinary Circumstances. We then proposed that:

  • for humanitarian reason, to lower the age cut-off requirement to sixty (60) from seventy (70) years old; and
  • for medical reason, to include terminally ill prisoners and debilitating diseases.
  • This as we argued conforms to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners.

For the NPM to effectively work, the Subcommittee on the Prevention Against Torture has given special value on civil society’s involvement. Not only that individuals working for civil society members should be give a place in the NPM but the appointment procedures should be made transparent, inclusive and participatory.

For MAG, the creation of the NPM should not be considered merely a “quick fix solution” but rather should be given careful review of the its mandate, jurisdiction, independence, membership, powers and responsibilities and working methods, to ensure that it fully complies with the international human rights standards.

The work of the NPM should go beyond regular visits and recommendations by conducting awareness-raising, training, or even launching of localized public inquiries, consultation and coordination meetings on how to address torture and ill-treatment and the general conditions of detention.

Ending impunity requires accountability. But it can start from preventing the commission of the human rights violation through collaborative efforts.

Medical Action Group

Note: MAG’s position paper was presented during the Technical Working Group Meeting of Committee on Human Rights, at the House of Representatives on 10 February, 2015.

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[In the news] Witness: Palparan was behind torture, abuse of missing UP students -GMANetwork.com

Witness: Palparan was behind torture, abuse of missing UP students .

The prosecution’s first witness in the kidnapping case of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. on Monday claimed that the former Army official was behind the torture and rape of two missing female UP students, a report on GMA News TV’s “Balitanghali” said.

gmanewsonline

During the four-hour hearing of the Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 14 on Wednesday, witness Raymond Manalo positively identified Palparan as the person who was behind the disappearance of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.

The report said Manalo was able to provide details on how the missing students were tortured and raped under Palparan’s watch. Manalo told the court he found out about the situation of the two students when he was about to bring food to their hut.

Read full article @www.gmanetwork.com

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[Statement] Immediately release Maritess and Rosario, hold their torturers accountable so that it may not happen again to anyone -TFDP

Immediately release Maritess and Rosario, hold their torturers accountable so that it may not happen again to anyone

Free Lotero and Marquez copyTask Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) calls on the immediate implementation of the Review Resolution issued by the Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and the immediate release of the two Agta women illegally arrested, detained and psychologically tortured by authorities.

All those involved must be held accountable and this practice that violates human rights must be stopped.

TFDP logo small

TFDP pertains to the case of Marites Dela Cruz Marquez (Sierra Madre in Tumbil, Barangay Umiray, General Nakar, Quezon) and Rosario Marquez Loreto (Mataping, Barangay Umiray, General Nakar, Quezon) who were illegally arrested on September 26, 2014 at Barangay Sta. Ines, Tanay, Rizal Province.

Marites and Rosario were arrested by combined elements of the 59th and 16th Infantry Battalions and local police of Tanay, headed by 2LT Ronnel Avanzado and Chief Insp. Reynaldo Francisco because they were suspected to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA), accused of kidnapping, robbery and murder.

According to the DOJ statement posted on their website, “Pursuant to her power to act directly on any matter involving a probable miscarriage of justice within the jurisdiction of prosecutors, and to review the final judgments and orders of prosecutors, a Review Resolution was issued by the Secretary of Justice in connection with the case of two Dumagats who are allegedly detained at Tanay Philippine National Police, Rizal.”

A “Motion to Withdraw Information” was filed in January 26, 2015 by Senior Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Leonardo T. Gonzales, in compliance with Secretary De Lima’s order.

In view of the findings of DOJ, based on the careful review of the evidence on record, it reveals that a procedural flaw violated the sacred rights of Marites and Rosario. The Justice Secretary emphasized in the Review Resolution that “in an inquest proceeding, it is the duty of the prosecutor to, first and foremost, determine the legality of the arrest made.”

DOJ also stated that the arrests of Marites and Rosario were based merely on hearsay information provided by a certain Mr. Delos Angeles. In reviewing the Resolution, the Justice Secretary cited the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of People vs Doria that “if there is no showing that the person who effected the warrantless arrest had, in his own right,knowledge of facts implicating the person arrested to the perpetration of a criminal offense, the arrest is legally objectionable.”

Thus, the need for this injustice and human rights violation against Marites and Rosario be stopped. Immediately release the two IP women and made those involved in the irresponsible and illegal arrest and torture of the two be held accountable.

Base on TFDP documentation besides being illegally arrested and detained, Marites and Rosario also suffered emotional trauma caused by this unfortunate incident. They were deprived of sleep and rest during their interrogation and have feared for their lives.

Their families, including their children and livelihood have been affected severely since they have been illegally detained for more than five months now.

Psychological torture is a crime under RA 9745 or the Anti-torture Act which states that “Mental/Psychological Torture refers to acts committed by a person in authority or agent of a person in authority which are calculated to affect or confuse the mind and/or undermine a person’s dignity and morale..”

There have been many cases of illegal arrests and torture perpetrated against alleged and accused members of rebel groups violating the right to due process and equal protection under the law, victimizing innocent civilians belonging to the marginalized sectors.

There were cases of mistaken identities and many more human rights violations and there were no perpetrators punished.

Let Marites and Rosario be the last victims of this habitual and irresponsible handling of authorities especially the security sectors to cases involving suspected insurgents. Release them and hold all those involved accountable.

(http://opinion.inquirer.net/79521/to-have-peace-there-must-be-justice)

(http://tfdp.net/campaigns/on-political-prisoners/482-urgent-action-philippines-two-civilian-agta-women-arrested-arbitrarily-and-psychologically-tortured-by-police-and-soldiers-)

(http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/665395/doj-finds-arrest-of-women-tribe-members-illegal-orders-reinvestigation)

(http://www.doj.gov.ph/news.html?title=Reinvestigation%20of%20the%20Kidnapping%20Case%20Against%20Two%20Dumagats%20Detained%20at%20Tanay%20PNP%20Rizal%20Ordered&newsid=341)

TFDP STATEMENT
February 11, 2015

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

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