Tag Archives: United Nations Convention Against Torture

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

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

Geneva and Vienna, 26th of June 2013.

20110524134830OMCT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For further information, please contact:

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

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

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

[Event] June 26 UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture Basta! Run Against Torture VII -UATC

June 26 UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
Basta! Run Against Torture VII
MAKE PHILIPPINES A TORTURE-FREE ZONE

4 x 8 ft Streamer copy

 

I. Introduction

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) is an international human rights instrument that aims to prohibit and prevent torture and cruel, inhuman degrading treatment or punishment around the world. The UNCAT came into force on 26 June 1987 after 20 ratifications since its adoption by the UN General assembly on 10 Dec 1984.

This year, 26 years after the UNCAT came into force and with 153 state parties, the world has yet to rid of the continued use and practice of torture and ill-treatment. Over recent years, there has been an assault on various fundamental rights in the context of counter terrorism, protecting national security, stopping the rise of criminality, and maintaining peace and order. The protection against torture, an absolute and non-derogable right, provided by the treaty has been undermined – marked by a growing acceptance of torture or other ill-treatment in the context of intelligence-gathering, resort to illegal modes of detention for those suspected of involvement in terrorism, criminality and subversion, and lack of accountability for those who have authorized or committed torture and other ill-treatment. These are key challenges facing the human rights movement today.

On June 26, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, key organizations around the will focus on the global reaffirmation of nations and peoples to the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment as set in the UDHR and the UNCAT – reaffirmations that should be felt and experienced in the smallest and farthest of communities.
II. Background

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 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 Lawof 2009, and the Philippines having been a state party to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) since 1987, the act remains widely used 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. In order to see the decline of the practice in country, it is important that all members of society become informed of this right 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.

This coming June 26, the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), spearheaded by Amnesty International Philippines (AIPH), Balay Rehabilitation Center (BALAY), Medical Action Group (MAG), the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), with the support of the Commission on Human Rights and different government agencies tasked to combat torture, 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 26 years ago.

The UATC will focus on addressing the dire need to implement RA 9745 in its fullest extent centering on prevention and accountability as two of the more important aspects of the law that need focus. While it is imperative to ensure accountability of torturers, the group also wants the practice of torture and ill-treatment stopped in every place of detention – whether it is managed by the barangays, the police, the BJMP and other agencies – by allowing unhampered access to monitoring groups.
III. Activity: “Basta! Run Against Torture! VII (BRAT)”

The first ‘Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT)’ was held in June 25, 2002 and served as the launching pad of the national campaign against torture of the United Against Torture Coalition’s (UATC), a network of anti-torture advocates that was organized in May of 2002.

BRAT was the brainchild Fr. Robert Reyes who eventually headed the 50-strong runners from different organizations within UATC. The well-publicized event (covered by various radio, print and TV programs) started at the Oblation Statue in UP Diliman and ended at the Quezon city Memorial Circle to join the rest of the coalition and the media in an hour-long press conference that formally launched the concerted campaign against torture in the Philippines.

The equally successful and well-publicized event BRAT II in 2008, described as an event ‘rarely seen’ by media practitioners, gathered more than a hundred participants from the CSOs, 50 from the CHR and an unprecedented 200 from the Philippine National Police. The event was also supported by members and secretariat of the Committees on Justice and Human Rights (with fulfilled promises of passing the anti-torture bill in the House of Representatives), and the members of the local government of Quezon City. The run aimed to make public the condemnation of torture in the context of the war against terror and human security, preventing the use of torture through a law and the ratification of the OPCAT (which the government subsequently signed August of 2008) and holding into account perpetrators of then act.

From BRAT III to BRAT VI, the activity included the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of Interior and Local government and the Presidential Human Rights Committee in its fold. From a humble beginning of having 5o runners to carry the anti-torture banner, the event gathers almost 700 participants from the afore-mentioned organizations and agencies.

The BRAT has also contributed to milestones in the anti-torture advocacy in the country. RA 9745 was passed in November of 2009 and the Philippines ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) in April of 2012.

This year’s BRAT will focus on the continuous and intensified campaign to make the Philippines a torture-free zoneby ensuring monitoring of all activities and practices in all detention centers – an important step to ensure the effective implementation of the law. Aside from demanding accountability of jail officers and overseers of detention centers in ensuring that torture and ill-treatment is not practiced through formal compliance procedures and education of officers and detainees, the UATC is also proposing a more pro-active positioning in monitoring by all concerned parties with emphasis on government accountability through the community’s participation.
IV. Objectives
1. To provide a platform for civil society organizations, the CHR, key government agencies, the academe and the youth to push for full implementation of the Anti-Torture Law through an awareness activity that:
a. encourages communities, grassroots and local organizations to be involved in the monitoring of all detention centers in their areas
b. encourages government agencies tasked to manage these detention centers to cooperate and recognize and support monitoring activities of the communities and other local organizations.
VI. Messages

Over-Arching Theme:

Basta Run AgainstTortureVII
MAKE PHILIPPINES A TORTURE-FREE ZONE

VII. Activity Design

Organizers
United Against Torture Coalition Steering Committee (AIPh, BALAY, MAG, TFDP and PAHRA)

Partners
Commission on Human rights
Presidential Human Rights Committee
Philippine National Police Human Rights Affairs Office
Armed Forces of the Philippines Human Rights Office
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology

Other Attendees (TBC)
Department of Justice
Department of Interior and Local Government
Department of Health
Department of Social Works and Development
Select Schools and Academic Institutions

Conduct
• All participants will assemble at the BantayogngMgaBayani (Quezon Avenue, at the back of Centris) on the 26th of June at around 630 am – 700 am
• The run will start at 700 am sharp
o Most runners will be wearing activity shirts to be provided by the organizers
o All organizations joining the run will only be allowed to carry 1 flag each
o Positioning

  • Pre-Frontline – Sound System
  • Front line – organizational leaders (carrying the activity tarp
  • 2nd liners – organizational flag bearers (colors)
  • 1st Block – UATC
  • 2nd Block –Academe and Students
  • 3rd Block – CHR
  • 4th Block – Government Agencies (DILG, DOJ, PHRC, DOH, DepEd, CHED)
  • 5thBlock – PNP
  • 6th Block – AFP

• Route (right side of the road): BantayogngMgaBayani – (right towards) Eliptical Road – Quezon City Hall – (right towards) PhilCOA – commonwealth – CHR Open Grounds

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

[from the web] 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

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

[Event] Forum on the Joint Civil Society Report for the 2nd cycle of the UPR 13th Session

April 20, 2012

Dear fellow human rights defender,

The Philippines, among other States Parties, will be the focus of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 13th session from May 21-June 4, 2012 by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. The UPR is a process which provides “the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have done to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations.”

The Medical Action Group (MAG) and the Institute of Human Rights (IHR), University of the Philippines (UP) Law Center, in coordination with the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) would like to invite you or your representative to participate in a public presentation forum on the Joint Civil Society Report for the 2nd cycle of the UPR 13th Session. This forum is set to be held on May 18, 2012 (Friday) at 2nd Floor, Bocobo Hall, UP Law Center, Diliman, Quezon City from 1:00 to 4:30PM.

While at this, one of the priority issues in the Joint Civil Society Report is the campaign against torture in the Philippines. Thus there will be a presentation of the research output by the UP IHR on the Confidential Inquiry Procedure of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The forum is designed to inform the stakeholders about the highlights of the Joint Civil Society Report for the UPR and its significance in improving the human rights situation in the country. Likewise, the forum aims to educate the human rights community as well as other stakeholders in the complaint procedure provided for in the Article 20 of the Convention against Torture as a tool for combating torture in the country.

Should you have any inquiry, please call the MAG office at 433-15-94 or 441-10-73 and look for Jerbert M. Briola.

We look forward to your favorable response. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Yours sincerely,

Edeliza P. Hernandez, RN
Executive Director
Medical Action Group

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

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

[Petition] A people’s petition calling on the Philippine Congress to urgently pass a bill to compensate all victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship

Aa people’s petition calling on the Philippine Congress to urgently pass a bill to compensate all victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship

21 April 2012

WHEREAS, the Philippines is a Charter-State of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and is, therefore, duty-bound to protect and uphold the basic rights of all its peoples;

WHEREAS, Section 11 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines declares that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights;
WHEREAS, pursuant to this declared policy, Section 12 of Article III of the Constitution prohibits the use of torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will and mandates the compensation and rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices and their families;

WHEREAS, by virtue of Section 2 of Article II of the Constitution adopting generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, the Philippines must also adhere to international human rights laws and conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and also the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPAPED);

WHEREAS, consistent with the foregoing, it is hereby declared the policy of the State to recognize the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations committed during the dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos covering the period September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986 and restore the victims’ honor and dignity;

#Remember ML@40 – Never Again to Martial Law!

WHEREAS, the State hereby acknowledges its moral and legal obligation to recognize and/or compensate said victims and/or their families for the deaths, injuries, sufferings, deprivations, and damages they suffered under the Marcos Dictatorship;

THEREFORE, We, the undersigned human rights organizations, human rights defenders, people’s organizations, non-government organizations, and other concerned individuals, especially victims of Martial Law, do hereby call on the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to both jointly, urgently and immediately pass a ‘Compensation Act to Victims of Human Rights Violations During the Marcos Dictatorship’; and

FURTHERMORE, We also call on all of our country’s young people, youth and students, young workers, community youth, young professionals, and together with all the other basic sectors of Philippine society, to not only sign this ‘People’s Petition Calling on the Philippine Congress to Urgently Pass a Bill to Compensate all Victims of Human Rights Violations During the Marcos Dictatorship’ but, to also help ‘Inform, Inspire and Remember Martial Law after 40 years’. The latter should be one of our primary collective missions in order to prevent any future emergence of a state and society that could once again embrace a brutal militarist dictatorship to undermine and destroy our basic human rights.

CLICK TO SIGN AND DOWNLOAD PETITION TO INVITE OTHERS TO SIGN @ A PEOPLE’S PETITION RE THE COMPENSATION BILL

Submit your signed petition @ pahra@philippinehumanrights.org

[Event] Forum of the Joint Civil Society Report for the 2nd cycle of the UPR 13th Session -MAG

April 20, 2012

Dear fellow human rights defender,

The Philippines, among other States Parties, will be the focus of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 13th session from May 21-June 4, 2012 by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. The UPR is a process which provides “the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have done to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations.”

The Medical Action Group (MAG) and the Institute of Human Rights (IHR), University of the Philippines (UP) Law Center, in coordination with the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) would like to invite you or your representative to participate in a public presentation forum of the Joint Civil Society Report for the 2nd cycle of the UPR 13th Session. This forum is set to be held on May 18, 2012 (Friday) at 2nd Floor, Bocobo Hall, UP Law Center, Diliman, Quezon City from 1:00 to 4:30PM.

While at this, one of the priority issues in the Joint Civil Society Report is the campaign against torture in the Philippines. Thus there will be a presentation of the research output by the UP IHR on the Confidential Inquiry Procedure of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The forum is designed to inform the stakeholders about the highlights of the Joint Civil Society Report for the UPR and its significance in improving the human rights situation in the country. Likewise, the forum aims to educate the human rights community as well as other stakeholders in the complaint procedure provided for in the Article 20 of the Convention against Torture as a tool for combating torture in the country.

Should you have any inquiry, please call the MAG office at 433-15-94 or 441-10-73 and look for Jerbert M. Briola.

We look forward to your favorable response. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely,
(Sgd.) Edeliza P. Hernandez, RN
Executive Director
Medical Action Group

[From the web] CIVICUS Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review 13th Session of the UPR Working Group

Philippines
Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review 13th Session of the UPR Working Group
Submitted 28 November 2011
Submitted by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

1. (A) Introduction

1.1 CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is an international movement with members in more than 100 countries worldwide. Established in 1993, CIVICUS nurtures the foundation, growth and protection of citizen action throughout the world, especially in areas where participatory democracy and citizen’s freedom of association are threatened.

1.2 In this document, CIVICUS outlines urgent concerns related to the environment in which civil society activists and human rights defenders operate in the Philippines. This submission highlights the major breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

· Section B highlights concerns regarding assassinations and extra-judicial killings of
activists and other civilians
· Section C focuses on the disappearance, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention of
civilians
· Section D highlights attacks on freedom of expression and association of civil
society organisations
· Section E highlights the militarisation in rural and urban areas and the
displacement of civilians
· In Section F, CIVICUS makes a number of recommendations to the Philippine
Government.

Read full report @ upr philippines CIVICUS submission

[Press Release] PHILIPPINES: Human Rights Council must act on widespread arbitrary dismissals of torture complaints and resultant impunity -AHRC

PHILIPPINES: Human Rights Council must act on widespread arbitrary dismissals of torture complaints and resultant impunity

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to inform and seek the intervention of the Human Rights Council and the Special Rapporteur on torture concerning the frequent dismissals of complaints of torture, which speak to a system of legal and procedural obstacles and systemic institutional failings that are ensuring that perpetrators of torture typically enjoy impunity in the Philippines.

Torture remains widespread in the Philippines, not only concerning counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, but also by the police concerning a large number of petty criminal cases. Despite having acceded to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in June 1986, over 25 years later, the practice remains endemic and victims have no truly effective avenues to seek redress, while the perpetrators go free. This climate of impunity only engenders the further use of torture.

As the members of the Human Rights Council negotiate a resolution on torture during the body’s upcoming 19th session, it is imperative that such obstacles and the resultant impunity they confer on perpetrators of torture be included as an area of focus, in order to enable the more effective application of the Convention at the national level around the world. While this statement concentrates on the situation in the Philippines, similar obstacles and systems enabling deeply-entrenched impunity for torture are witnessed across Asia. The international system has thus far proven ineffective at addressing situations comprising endemic and widespread torture as a component of regular police investigations.

The ALRC documents numerous case of torture in the Philippines each year, and is gravely concerned by the range of systemic failings and actions by prosecutors, the police and the country’s courts, that are leading to dismissals of cases in which victims of torture are seeking justice and reparation. Several key case examples are presented below, in order to illustrate various facets of the phenomenon of case dismissals.

Complaint dismissals often result from the failure to adequately record medical evidence concerning the use of torture, despite provisions in the 2009 Anti-torture Act and the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-torture Act, which contain specific instructions concerning the right to physical, medical and psychological examinations prior to and following interrogation, and the specific information that must be recorded by doctors conducting such examinations. The rejection of torture complaints that were lodged by detained Muslim victims Jedil Esmael Mestiri and Rahman Totoh, who were allegedly respectively tortured by the 32nd Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army (PA) on June 26, 2011, and the Basilan Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) on July 28, 2011, speak to this problem.

In Mestiri’s case, the military took him to the Isabela City General hospital, but the doctor who examined him ignored his chest pains and injuries. In Rahman’s case, although the Basilan General Hospital doctor who examined him did record his injuries, he failed to give adequate medical explanations, as required by Anti-torture Act, to explain the cause of the injuries. In a letter dated January 6, 2012, Police Director Nicanor Bartolome, rejected both Mestiri and Rahman’s allegations of torture against the perpetrators, citing a lack of medical evidence. Placing the burden of proof upon victims is unacceptable, and the doctors’ failures in conducting forensic examinations are violations in their own right and must be independently investigated and dealt with as such, but the authorities typically fail to take such action.

In another case, State prosecutors dismissed a torture complaint against the police on July 21, 2011, on the basis that the victim, who was blindfolded during torture, could not positively identify those responsible. On August 3, 2010, Lenin Salas and three others were arrested the San Fernando City Police and the Provincial Public Safety Office under Superintendent Madzgani Mukaram in relation to their alleged involvement with the Marxist Leninist Party of the Philippines (MLPP-RHB), an illegal armed group. During arrest, Lenin Salas was reportedly assaulted and beaten with a stick. Inside the police headquarters he was blindfolded and beaten with a gun, burnt on the body and neck with lit cigarettes, suffocated with cellophane, kicked in the genitals, and subjected to mock execution. The other three men were also reportedly tortured. This treatment lasted until they were taken to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) in San Fernando, Pampanga Province, where they were charged with Illegal Possession of Firearms, Ammunitions and Explosives.

The case of Misuari Kamid, who was arbitrarily arrested on April 30, 2010, and tortured in order to force him to confess to selling illegal drugs, also shows the unwillingness of the authorities to prosecute state officials for torture. Following his being severely beaten, Misuari was framed by the police, with two plastic sachets containing illegal drugs and a 500 peso bill being placed on the ground and his being forced through beatings to kneel beside them in order for photos to be taken. He was paraded before the media on May 1 along with the planted evidence. The injuries that he suffered were confirmed in a medical certificate issued on May 18, 2010. Misuari remains detained in the General Santos City Reformatory Center. According to information received recently, the prosecutor has downgraded the case from one concerning torture to physical injury. It is thought that this is a compromise position to allow the case to go forwards rather than dropping it altogether, due to pressure from civil society groups. However, this remains indicative of the in-built resistance by the authorities to ever proceed with cases specifically relating to torture.

Further inconsistencies in the way torture complaints are dealt with by the authorities are illustrated by the case of Darius Evangelista, who was allegedly tortured on March 5, 2010, in Tondo by policemen attached to Police Stations 2 & 11 of the Manila Police District, having been arrested on allegations of robbery. Three detainees witnessed him being taken upstairs to a room inside Police Station 11 where he was interrogated and tortured. The torture resulted in him being badly injured, with visible blunt trauma to his face and swollen eyes, according to one of the witnesses. The police denied having Darius in detention to his family members. He was seen being taken away from the police station on March 6 by one of the detainees and has not been seen alive since. His family reported his disappearance to the police, who filed a “Missing Person Alarm Report” that omitted any reference to his having been detained. Subsequently, in late March, a severed human head thought to be Darius’ was found by scavengers, although forensic identification has still not been completed. His father and three witnesses signed sworn statements regarding Darius’ arrest, torture and disappearance which have been provided to the Commission on Human Rights, which has failed to conclude an investigation as mandated under the 2009 the Anti-Torture Act.

However, on August 17, video footage of Darius’ torture at the hands of the police surfaced, and was broadcast by national television station ABS-CBN. In the video, the victim is seen having his penis pulled by a string tied around it as he is lying on the floor naked. He is beaten every time he folds his body as he tries to reach his genitals in pain. Several policemen from the police station are visible in the video footage. The policeman shown torturing the victim is the chief of the police station, SI Joselito Binayug. After the video was aired, the police were under pressure to create a team to investigate the case, which they called Task Force Asuncion. They again interviewed the three witnesses. On August 23, 2010, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed charges for violation of the Anti-Torture Act with the Department of Justice (DoJ) against the accused policemen. Section 9(a) of the Act requires the DoJ to resolve whether the policemen have a case to answer within 60 days; and if there is an appeal, it must still be “within the same time period prescribed”. However, it was only one year later, on August 22, 2011, that DoJ prosecutors recommended the filing of charges for Torture Resulting in the Death of any Person, under the 2009 Anti-torture Act.

While the ALRC welcomes this landmark prosecution, which it believes is the first known case in which members of the security forces will be tried for violations of the 2009 Anti-Torture Act, the delays witnessed in this process, despite overwhelming evidence, remain a serious concern. The ALRC recalls that in cases of torture, the Anti-Torture Act provides for victims’ right to prompt and impartial investigations, however, the absence of a mechanism to deal with prosecutors and investigators who fail to comply with the law has resulted in cases remaining pending for years. In less high-profile cases, such delays often result in victims abandoning complaints, in particular due to the threats and lack of protection that they face during these extended periods. The ALRC therefore urges the government of the Philippines, in particular the Department of Justice, as well as the Commission on Human Rights, which are the two agencies that have the primary obligation to implement the Anti-Torture Act, to ensure the prompt establishment an effective mechanism to prevent needless delays in investigating and prosecuting torture cases.

Despite documenting and following numerous cases of torture in the Philippines, the ALRC is unaware of any related torture complaints that have resulted in the successful prosecution of those alleged to have committed these acts. The ALRC calls on the government to provide detailed information to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on torture and in particular in its upcoming reporting to the Universal Periodic Review, concerning the number of successful prosecutions of persons accused of perpetrating torture it has recorded to date, the punishments they received, and statistical and analytical data concerning successful and dismissed torture complaints, including the reasons for dismissals. This data should include sufficient information to enable case by case verification of the claims made.

Additionally, the ALRC recalls that as part of the Philippines initial UPR process, a number of states and observers made recommendations concerning the need for the government to address the issue of torture, which the government accepted. The Holy See called for the complete elimination of torture and extra-judicial killings. Mexico, the Netherlands, Slovenia (as EU President) and the United Kingdom called for the government to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). The government has failed to take the required action concerning these accepted recommendations. In a related matter that is relevant here, Switzerland called on the government to “Intensify its efforts to carry out investigations and prosecutions on extrajudicial killings and punish those responsible.” The problem of a lack of effective investigations and prosecutions concerning extra-judicial killings mirrors that found concerning torture, and the ALRC therefore urges the afore-mentioned states and other members of the UPR Working Group to make further recommendations concerning the issue of torture, including the need to eliminate its use, to sign the OPCAT, but also to ensure the prompt investigation and prosecution of complaints of torture through the systematic recording of medical evidence, the elimination of delays and obstacles to prosecutions, the effective protection to victims and witnesses, and the effective punishment of perpetrators of torture, in line with the 2009 Anti-torture Act. Furthermore, the government must be urged to establish legal provisions and an effective oversight mechanism to ensure the punishment of all officials who participate in the obstruction of justice concerning the prosecution of torture complaints.

# #
About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.
Visit our new website with more features at http://www.humanrights.asia.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2012

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Nineteenth session, Agenda Item 3, Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on torture
A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

[From the web] Sponsorship Speech of Senator Loren Legarda on the OPCAT ratification

Sponsorship Speech of Senator Loren Legarda on the OPCAT ratification
by Medicalactiongroup Mag on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 9:06pm

“Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)”
Senate Committee Report No. 92

Sponsorship speech of Sen. Loren Legarda

December 13, 2011

I have the honor to seek approval of Senate Resolution No. 664, entitled “Resolution Concurring in the Accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” prepared and submitted by the Committee on Foreign Relations on 12 December 2011 per its Committee Report No. 92.

Torture is a violation of human rights and human dignity. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. The Philippine Government’s position on torture is very clear. We condemn its use as a matter of fundamental principle. The Philippine Government is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights under the 1987 Constitution.

As a founding member of the United Nations and a member of the Human Rights Council, the Philippines reiterates its deep commitment to actively support, protect and promote Human Rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the core human rights treaties and other international instruments to which it is a state party.

It is propitious that I stand here today – three days after the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day and five days before the ninth anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture by the United Nations — to report out the Committee on Foreign Relations’ endorsement of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture or OPCAT.

Chronology of Events

The Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment or CAT was adopted by the UN General Assembly by Resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984 and was ratified by the Philippines on 18 June 1986.

CAT is the primary international anti-torture mechanism.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is a subsidiary instrument of the Convention Against Torture.

The OPCAT was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2002 at the 57th session of the UNGA by resolution A/RES/57/199 and entered into force in 22 June 2006.

Today, I ask that we give flesh to our human rights declarations. I strongly recommend that the Instrument of Accession for OPCAT be concurred in and signed by this august body.

Main Features of the Treaty and Obligations Upon Accession

What does this instrument seek to achieve?

The OPCAT seeks to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment through an international mechanism that will conduct regular visits to places of detention within State Parties. This mandate is carried out by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

It is a treaty obligation for State Parties to the OPCAT to accept visits from the Subcommittee and grant it access to all places of detention within its jurisdiction.

The OPCAT forwards the idea that through a system of regular jail visits by independent international and local monitors, torture and other forms of ill-treatment can be prevented in jails and that jail conditions can be improved. Visitorial powers are very important in the observance of human rights because the sheer process of observation will naturally change what is being observed.

States Parties to the OPCAT have to create or designate National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) which will work with the UN Subcommittee to conduct regular visits to all places of detention and make recommendations on the establishment of effective measures to prevent torture and ill-treatment and to improve the conditions of detention of all persons deprived of liberty.

The OPCAT also enables States Parties to benefit from advisory, technical and financial assistance.

Statement of Deferment

In endorsing the OPCAT, the Department of Foreign Affairs, under Article 24 thereof, informed the Committee on Foreign Relations that it will request the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture for a deferment of the implementation of the obligations in Part III of OPCAT to allow for completion of the Government’s reform programs for jails and detention facilities.

I support this request for such a deferment.

The deferment gives the Philippines 3 years to improve prison, detention and custodial facilities before the Subcommittee can perform visits. This declaration is an integral part of the Instrument of Accession signed by the President on 9 December 2010.

I wish to emphasize that the deferment refers only to requests for visits by the Subcommittee and not on the establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism which is required by the OPCAT to be established within one year after accession.

Hence, despite the declaration, torture and ill-treatment can immediately be prevented because of the establishment of a national body that can undertake visits to prisons and other detention and custodial facilities.

This is not an exceptional request for even the United Kingdom has delayed its notification for the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism, a requirement under the OPCAT.

The bases for the request for a Philippine deferment of implementation after the accession of the OPCAT are three main realities in the country’s current penal system, namely: (1) overcrowding primarily traced to slow processing of cases, (2) outbreak of diseases, and (3) need for better jail environments that allow the rehabilitation and eventual reintegration of detainees.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), with its limited resources, has been struggling to meet the standard minimum rules for treatment of prisoners set forth by the United Nations.

Rule 10, Part I of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that:

“All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.”

In that light, the BJMP has set an accommodation space of three (3) square meters for each inmate.

With total cell area of its jails at 56,982 square meters, BJMP should be able to accommodate only 18,944 inmates. As of August 2009, BJMP facilities hold a total of 57,007 inmates nationwide, translating into a 201% congestion level.

From January to August of 2009, a monthly average of 3,411 has been committed as compared to 3,309 released, for a net monthly addition of 102 inmates.

The Philippines has a ratio of about one guard to every forty-eight prisoners, while the international standard is one guard for every seven prisoners.

As for allowance of an inmate’s meals, the government provides fifty pesos per inmate each day. The budget for medicines is a meager three pesos per inmate per day.

Similar problems also exist in our provincial jails which, pursuant to R.A. 6975 are under the direction, supervision and control of the provincial governors. As of August 2009, there are 75 provincial jails and 27 sub-provincial jails nationwide housing 26,618 inmates. These inmates are under the custody of 2,999 provincial guards which results to a custodial ratio of 1 jail officer to 9 inmates.

On the part of the Philippine National Police, many police stations, mostly small and cramped, still do not have separate cells for male and female detainees. Likewise, police stations lack the necessary holding rooms for children in conflict with the law (CICL) who are awaiting transfer to the DSWD or to responsible persons and institutions involved in the diversion program as provided for by the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act. (RA9344).

Article 2 of OPCAT provides that the Sub-Committee shall carry out its work within the framework of, inter alia,”norms of the United Nations concerning the treatment of people deprived of liberty,” including norms for women and children. It is imperativethat all Philippine prisons, detention and custodial facilities must meet UN norms and standards. Thus, the need for us to declare a deferment in the implementation of the OPCAT to allow us to upgrade our custodial facilities to UN levels.

There is a basis for the National Preventive Mechanism under our present laws. The Commission on Human Rights undertakes, as a regular function, jail visits and assistance to detainees. In fact, last June 23, 2009 a Memorandum of Undertaking was signed between the CHR and the PNP upholding the former’s visitorial powers over all police lock-up cells and jails.

Internal Inspections of jails also continue to be carried out by the DOJ and the DILG. There are also judicial inspections made by judges and court officials.

The Law on Custodial Investigation likewise allows visits by certain accredited civil society organizations, such as the Balay Rehabilitation Center, the Medical Action Group (MAG), and other NGOs within the Philippine Network Against Torture (PNAT). The International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) has its own regular visits and even shares with Government the results of their work and recommends measures to improve conditions of our facilities.

State Parties to OPCAT

To date, there are 61 State Parties, and 22 additional State Signatories to the instrument. 37 States have designated their National Preventive Mechanisms.

Executive Endorsement

The country’s accession to the OPCAT has the support of relevant Government agencies. In the hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on 16 February 2011, the following agencies endorsed the country’s accession to the OPCAT namely DFA, DOJ, DILG, PHRC, CHR, AFP, PNP, BJMP, NBI, and PDEA.

Benefits of Accession

As a State Party to all eight core UN Human Rights Treaties, and as an internationally recognized champion of human rights in the region, it naturally follows that we accede to OPCAT. Our accession will help put into action our commitment to human rights and to the Government’s constitutionally mandated obligation to ensure that the rights of our citizens are upheld and protected.

OPCAT cuts across several international human rights instruments to which the Philippines is a Party due to specific or related provision on torture such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

I ask for the Senate’s concurrence in the country’s accession to the OPCAT, confident that this will strongly assist in keeping in check, acts of torture, as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of detainees. We are hopeful, that by our accession to this instrument, our jail conditions will finally be improved, making them conducive to promote the rehabilitation of its residents.

For these reasons, I humbly recommend that the Senate approve Resolution No. 664, entitled: “Resolution Concurring in the Accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

By this recommendation, I also endorse the Declaration, integral to the instrument of accession signed by the President, requesting deferment of the implementation of the obligations in Part III of the OPCAT to allow for completion of the Government’s reform programs for jails and detention facilities before the Subcommittee can perform visits.

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

Objectives

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

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

The conference will seek to:

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

Learning methodology

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

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

Participants

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

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

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

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

Practical information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call for conference paper

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

Theme Tracks

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

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

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

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

[Last week’s featured site] Balay works for the psychosocial relief and rehabilitation of survivors of human rights violations

BALAY Rehabilitation Center, Inc.

BALAY Rehabilitation Center is a non-governmental organization that works for the psychosocial relief and rehabilitation of survivors of human rights violations. It provides services primarily to the survivors of torture and organized violence, as well as to those who are displaced by armed conflict.

Apart from service delivery and the rehabilitation of human rights violations survivors, BALAY also promotes the protection and fulfillment of the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment, peace and the respect for International Humanitarian Law and the rights of persons deprived of their liberty through a national advocacy program that engages the state through, policy reform, critical partnerships and training of the policing, security and custodial sectors on human rights. Campaigning for the state adhesion to and effective implementation of freedom from torture and other human rights instruments such as the Anti-Torture Act and the UN Convention Against Torture is at the heart of the organizations work.

The organization consists of an interdisciplinary staff and volunteers who have academic backgrounds and experience in the fields of psychology, social work, community development, popular education, social enterprise development, and peace and human rights advocacy.

Visit www.balayph.net

[Press Release] Rights group appraises P-Noy’s 1 year as weak on Human Rights – www.tfdp.net

Rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines appraised President Aquino’s one year performance as weak, especially in the area of human rights respect and protection.

“P-Noy’s lack of an explicit policy on human rights, against torture and human rights violations, in particular, may be considered as the weakest link.  This can be interpreted that P-Noy is either not in control or that human rights is not really part of his agenda,” Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP said.

According to TFDP, after the legislation of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, cases of torture still persist.  Worse, perpetrators still operate with impunity.

Just recently, TFDP received reports of cases of harassment of human rights defenders in Bulacan by a certain Sgt. Mendoza and members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and cases of torture and illegal arrests in Central Luzon and Mindanao.

“These cases prove that the “paradigm shift” that the officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been proclaiming still has a long way to go.  The government must prove its sincerity and gain the people’s confidence.”

As per TFDP documentation for the period of 1986 up to April 2011, there have been 1,122 cases of torture involving 4,839 individuals as victims. After the enactment of the Anti-Torture Law, 42 cases involving 64 victims have been documented.

“Paradigm shift, as the authorities call it, must not remain a mere proclamation. It is a must that the military and the police discontinue their practice of torturing people.  It is imperative that P-Noy looks into this matter seriously with urgency.”

In the same statement, TFDP reiterated its appeal for the release of all political prisoners.  According to the group, a communication was already sent to the Office of the President regarding the urgency of the case of Tatay Umbrero.  “We appealed for executive clemency since it is within P-Noy’s power to immediately act on the case of Tatay Umbrero.  But the government responded by referring Umbrero’s case to the Board of Pardons and Parole,” TFDP said.

According to the group, “It is hard to comprehend why Umbrero’s case would not deserve the urgent and immediate attention and action of P-Noy.  Is this not equally important as the issue of wangwang that merited inclusion in his previous State of the Nation Address?  Is human rights not included in P-Noy’s matuwid na daan?”

Mariano Umbrero, 63 years old, is a political prisoner at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). He was diagnosed with lung cancer, now on its fourth stage, and according to TFDP, his condition continues to worsen.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) recommends among others that the Philippine Government educate its members specially its security sectors about the right not to be tortured.  “How can P-Noy raise awareness among his ranks when he seems to be busy only with issues that will hit the headlines?  Or could it be that it is P-Noy who needs human rights education?” TFDP concluded.

PRESS RELEASE
June 29, 2011

[Press Release] Medical doctors can help to stop torture – Medical Action Group

This June 26, the Medical Action Group (MAG) and its members composed of medical doctors and health professionals are one with the world in commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

“Even though torture is a crime , torture persists as deep-rooted practice in the country. And majority of the perpetrators go unpunished and most victims are usually from marginalized sectors who lack resources to access lawyer and doctor they are entitled to,” said Edeliza P. Hernandez, Executive Director of MAG that treat torture victims.

26 June is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this day in 1987, the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment came into effect. The Philippines acceded to this Convention on June 18, 1986.

MAG said that effective medical documentation of torture can contribute in reducing impunity and obtaining redress. This in turn can be expected to help prevent torture in the future. Medical doctors can help stop torture by using the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment commonly known as the Istanbul Protocol.

“Since medical doctors are often among the first persons to come into contact with a torture survivor after the incident. Our medical doctors play an essential role in preventing impunity by effective medical documentation of torture cases like the torture case filed last April 7 at the Regional Trial Court in Kidapawan by Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 12 against a police officer and his subordinates after it concluded that they mishandled two suspects in the October 2010 bus bombing in Matalam, North Cotabato,” MAG emphasized.

MAG urges the government to institutionalize the use of the Istanbul Protocol since it has been affirmed by the Supreme Court the value of the Protocol in proving claims of torture. ([G.R. No. 180906, The Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo, October 7, 2008] on the application of the writ of amparo)

The government’s obligation to provide redress for human rights violations like torture cases entails the duty to ensure full reparation and to provide rehabilitation for victims and their relatives.

“In this respect, through a combination of effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act and the need for increased political will of our government officials are keys to prevent torture in the country,” MAG concluded.

Press release
June 26, 2011

[Press Release] Amid the Crimes in the Internet, Kids in Zamboanga Go to School Thanks to Facebook

One Less Filipino Drop Out: With studies pointing to one of 10 Filipino students dropping out before reaching college, Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library scholar Vergeil D. Enriquez, who is taking computer science at the Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City, is not joining such statistic, thanks to a Manila-based family which offered to answer for the scholarship needs of 34 Kris scholars this year after learning about the plight of poor Christian and Muslim kids through Facebook. Enriquez (left) smiles as she and her parents count the money given by Kris Library Administrator Aida Natividad.

Thanks to Facebook  – coupled with concerned netizens of the World Wide Web — 34 poor Christian and Muslim kids in Zamboanga City are going to school as scholars this year and thousands more will get to read books, use free computers and study in a private library in a far-flung place hardly reached by the Internet.

Sharing Computer Knowledge. Kris Library Scholar Sitti Marra Azib (standing), a second year student at the Manicahan High School, teaches a friend computer basics at the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (Kris) which is being helped by concerned people all over the world who follow the progress of the library and scholars through Facebook.

“It’s ironical that what Mark Elliot Zuckerberg intended to be a dating site has turned into a socially beneficial engine now powering the education of very poor children who would have dropped out of school had their sad plight not be known to kind-hearted individuals in Manila and far corners of the world – courtesy of Facebook and the Internet,” said Armand Dean Nocum, founder of the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (Kris), a non-government literacy advocacy group.

Nocum came out with the statement as Metro Manila has been hit recently by serious crimes to include murder and rape resulting from contacts of people through Facebook and other social networking sites.

Nocum admitted to having considered pulling out of Facebook after his own Yahoo site has been hacked Tuesday and from where messages have been sent to friends about him needing money because he was stranded in Spain.

“I realized the Internet has done more good than harm to our advocacy to bring education to poor kids in Mindanao. Recently, a donor I met through Facebook a donated P50,000 to enable us to put to school our first five college scholars and 29 high school and elementary school students in Zamboanga City.

Nocum said that since making his 10-year-old advocacy known through the internet through his personal Facebook page the and Kris Library website (http://www.krislibrary.com) over a year ago, he had received almost US1,500 donations from friends and relatives from the US, Ireland, Canada, Hawaii and all over the country.

Pictures Says All in Facebooks: It is pictures like this of Kristiano-Islam Peace Library scholars Joan Pangan (left) and Kathleen Resola graduating with top honors that convince Kris supporters from all over the world that their help to poor kids in far Manicahan, Zamboanga City is being put to good use. Beamed through Facebook, the smile and medals say it all to Facebook netizens who support Kris Library.

He said the funds helped complete the half-finished Kris Peace Library which had been helping provide for the research needs of poor children in 10 far-flung barangays and sitios in Zamboanga City since 2008; built three restrooms so the female students doing research in the library will not hold on to their bladders for hours before reaching home through muddy fields; and construct a computer and livelihood rooms there.

“It seems weekly blow-by-blow pictures of the construction work really convinced donors that we mean well. Pictures of kids and scanned writings of their appeal for help because their parents can no longer afford to pay for their continuing schooling also convinced our sponsors to sent help, thus making it possible for us to increase our scholars to 102 thus far,” Nocum said.

He also said that postings of videos of Kris scholars relating the ways Kris Library had helped them, pictures of them beaming with medals as they graduate as valedictorians, salutatorians and with high honors also inspired people to help.

“Most of our donors gave books, chocolates, toys, printers and used computers for free use by the students because through the Internet, they believe they have already gotten high degree of closeness with our scholars,” said the Manila-based Nocum who communicates with his staff and Kris beneficiaries also through the net even if there is yet no reliable line from Manicahan.

With growing support through the Internet, Nocum said Kris Library has expanded to Quezon City and had committed help establish Kris Peace Libraries or donate books to the Typhoon Ondoy and fire victims living in a resettlement site in Montalban, Rizal; kids who swim to school in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City; and poor kids helped by the Claretian Missionary Order in Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur.

“Amid all the computer hacking, robbery and other crimes done through the World Wide Web, there is love and caring in Facebook and in the Net,” said Nocum, a former journalist.

PRESS RELEASE
June 17, 2011

REFERENCE:
Arizza Ann Nocum
Kris Peace Library Manila Administrator
(02) 3522313/7030040
09178127932/09195897879

[Featured site] www.magph.org

Since 1982, Medical Action Group (MAG) is known to be a service-provider to victims of human rights violations.

MAG continues to provide a holistic rehabilitative service, which includes but not limited to medical and psychosocial services, to documented torture survivors particularly political detainees and prisoners in the country. This is concurrent to regular jail visitation of MAG staff. The beneficiaries also include immediate relatives of torture victims.

MAG pioneers its work on medical documentation as part of “quick response team” or QRT by documenting alleged cases of torture and providing necessary health and medical services to victims of arbitrary arrest and detention. MAG has been assisting victim/survivor of human rights violations by providing medical records and documentation to the court for prosecution of alleged perpetrators and measures to protect the victim/survivor. It is a well-known fact that persons deprived of their liberty are subjected to torture before they were brought to a judicial authority. Hence the need of necessary protection to the arrested person during this stage is considered to be crucial to prevent torture. Indeed, MAG has developed its credibility from this line of work and formed a vast and reliable network of support groups, organizations, institutions and individuals to provide support to its programs and services.

On victims’ medical and psychological aspects, the interventions are proved to be effective.  The formation of support group system is crucial in establishing network regarding health and social welfare needs of victims as well as their relatives. The support group composed of victims’ relatives, friends and colleagues as well as groups of human rights defenders creates a sense of belonging, provides emotional support, initiates capabilities for self-management when it comes to decision-making in facing life after detention and trial, and makes it possible to vindicate the victims.

Through the combination of documentation, welfare assistance, rehabilitation, networking and lobby work, MAG has been able to influence a number of policies for the protection and defense of human rights in the country and access to justice in particular the campaign for the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 9745) and popularization of the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment otherwise known as the Istanbul Protocol in medical documentation of cases of torture.

The documentation work of MAG has resulted in some extent “fine-tuning” of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Act i.e. Section 12, Right to Physical, Medical and Psychological Examination by facilitating a dialogue with concerned government agencies about documented cases where persons deprived of their liberty were not afforded prompt and regular access to a lawyer and an independent doctor from the outset of their detention, and victims’ right to request a second medical opinion by a doctor of his/her choice were violated.

MAG in 2009 facilitated the submission of the Joint Civil Society Report on the implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to the UN Committee Against Torture 42nd session, 27 April to 15 May 2009. Followed by Joint Civil Society Follow-up Report on the Progress of the Implementation by the Philippines of the United Nations Committee Against Torture Concluding Observations last August 2010.

MAG is currently disseminating information of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) Concluding Observations and Recommendations to the Philippine government and also involve in education campaign on popularization of the Anti-Torture Act.

Every year, MAG also conducts social and recreational activities for victims of torture and their relatives as part of their rehabilitation. On the commemoration of the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture and during Christmas season dubbed as “Paskuhan sa Kampo” (Christmas in Jail) are few of these activities where we mobilizes government agencies, civil society organizations, friends, concerned individuals and specialists.

For more information about MAG, please visit
http://www.magph.org
http://www.facebook.com/medicalactiongroup

[From the web] PHILIPPINES: Torture victims speaks out–“The soldiers were never prosecuted” Interview 5 – www.humanrights.asia

An interview with Marvin, a neighbour of two torture victims, published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

OVERVIEW: In this fifth interview in the series, Marvin (full identity is withheld) talks about the illegal arrest, detention and torture of his neighbours, Eduardo Singita and Junior Navarro in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur in April 2010.

In remote villages, self-censorship is so intense as a result of fear that once anyone in the village speaks against the atrocities committed by soldiers and armed militias, there is risk of being the next target of attack.

In this interview, Marvin took upon himself the risk in disclosing the details of what happened to his two neighbours for others to know. His neighbours were arrested without warrant, illegally detained and tortured in custody, the evidence on them was planted and they were forced by soldiers to serve as their guides in a military operation.

This is one of the many examples wherein the soldiers, who had nothing to do with investigation, take upon themselves the duty of arresting persons whom they suspected of committing criminal offenses. The soldiers routinely arrest, detain, torture and subject to an investigation any persons they take into custody with no legal justifications under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (RRCP). What they routinely do breaches the fundamental principles on which an arrest without a warrant is legally justifiable.

I am Marvin, a resident of Sto. Nino, Bayugan, Agusan del Sur. I am aware about what happened to an elderly torture victim, Eduardo Singita. He was a victim of abuse by the military because they suspected him of being a member of a rebel group, the New People’s Army (NPA).

They (soldiers attached to the 36th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army) arrested him. They used him as guide in their military operation. Before the soldiers took him as guide, they assaulted him already. They hit his back with the nozzles of their firearms. They forced him to carry their heavy luggage used in their operations. They also hammered his foot. He (Eduardo) had difficulty in walking after that. If he refused to go with the soldiers, they threatened to kill him. So he had no choice but to go with them.

The place where he was taken was in Purok (sub-section of the village) 8. Because the soldiers were using him as their guide, they reached our village. And when they arrive in our village, the soldiers took our other neighbors close to our home, Junior Navarro. After that they took our neighbors with them to the center of the community.

The head of our village asked the soldiers who took him in custody: “Why are you arresting these men? What have they done wrong?” The soldiers told him: “These men are members of the NPA (New Peoples’ Army). These are the persons who give support to the NPA”.

Then, another village official, this time a member of the village council, also responds: “if indeed these men are supporters of the NPA, you cannot see them in their homes. You could only find them (only) in the forest, if they are indeed NPAs”.

So after that, the soldiers let the victims go. The victims were so hungry because the soldiers did not give them breakfast to eat while in their custody. The victims had to ask food to eat from our village officials.

After that, the victims’ family filed a complaint against the soldiers. But the family had difficulty in filing charges against them. The family members were told they would have difficulty in filing charges because those who illegally arrested and tortured them, only few of them are enlisted soldiers. Most of them are private armies.

So, after that no charges have been filed by the victims’ family. The incident happened in April 1, 2010.

Q: How long were the victims held in custody, what unit were they attached to?

They are attached to the 36th Infantry battalion of the Philippine Army. On part of Eduardo, he was detained by the soldiers for two days.

Q: Where was he detained?

The soldiers held him under house arrest. After two days, that was the time that they took him as their guide.

Q: How many days did the soldiers took him as their guide?

For one day. In the afternoon of that day (he did not mention the exact date of April 2010), the soldiers took him to the center of the village.

Q: How about Junior, what happened to him?

After he was illegally arrested and taken in the soldier’s custody, they did not assault him further. It was because he (Junior) knew one of the CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit). That CAFGU he knew, who was together with the arresting soldiers, was a former rebel. He is now working for the soldiers.

Q: Why is it that there was no charge of torture filed against the soldiers?

I was not able to follow what had happened about the filing of charges. But from what I know, the victim himself (Junior) has decided not (to pursue charges in court) against the soldiers.

Q: Why is he no longer filing a case?

I do not know why he decided not to file a case. I could not understand why he is not filing charges when in fact he had strong evidence of being assaulted against the soldiers. They suspected him of being an NPA member because allegedly the soldiers were able to seize from him documents with connection to the NPAs.

The soldiers too seized from him a ‘Ripley’ firearm (Hogan Firearms Ripley) and a pistol. Even though it was true that the NPAs did deposit at his (Junior) house their firearms with him, but it has been there for a long time (in remote village villagers had no choice but to agree to any request of rebels, in his case having their firearms deposited in his home, to avoid being accused sympathetic to soldiers. The villagers are in difficult situation of balancing their treatment with rebels and soldiers to avoid trouble with them). The person whom the soldiers used as guide was the same person who deposited those firearms and documents to him before he joined the army as CAFGU.

That ‘Ripley’ firearm is also issued to him by the government because he is the head of the sub-section of the village. So when his nephew, who became the chairman of the village, came to know about it (illegal arrest, torture and the filing of false charges), he was very angry.

Q: Did the soldiers file charges on him as a result of the seizure of firearms and documents?

They did not file any charges on him.

Q: Could you tell us more about him (Junior)? Do you know who he is and why was he suspected of being an NPA as well?

The allegations on him were similar to what the soldiers had accused of Eduardo. The soldiers entered (both of) their homes, they were accused of being members of the NPA; they searched their belongings and sections at the house where they put their dress. The soldiers said they were doing it because it is where they be hiding their firearms. But after they finish searching, they did not find anything. So they took him (Junior).

Q: Lastly, how did you know about the details of this case? Do you know the victims? Did they ask help from you?

I know about the case because we are all neighbors. We know about it because when it happened, someone reported it to us. (In the village, most people know each other and it is common that everyone knows who the persons are in their neighborhood, what happened to him and their daily routine).

They are the ones who informed us about the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the victims. When it happened, we are also at home. But even our neighbor (Junior) even no longer talks about it now. They kept silent about it.

But on part of Eduardo, he filed charges against the soldiers but I haven’t heard of any progress about it. What I know is that he (Eduardo) had also withdrawn the charges he had filed earlier against the soldiers.

So, the soldiers were never prosecuted.

……………..

The views shared in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

# # #

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

Visit our new website with more features at http://www.humanrights.asia.

[From the web] PHILIPPINES: Torture victims speaks out–“I still suffer from trauma after two decades” Interview 2

Source: www.humanrights.asia

An interview with torture victim Romeo Luneta published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Torture victims speaks out–“I still suffer from trauma after two decades” Interview 2

SPECIAL REPORT
Torture in the Philippines & the unfulfilled promise of the 1987 Constitution

OVERVIEW: In the second part of the interview, Romeo Luneta speaks about his experience during Martial Law. Years after the incident, he could still describe vividly and in detail his experience of torture. He has not obtained any form of psychological and trauma counselling treatment, only medicine to help relieve pain and alleviate hearing loss.

Self introduction: I’d like you to know that I am Romeo Luneta, Romeo E. Luneta, 69 years old, Filipino, widower, a victim of Martial Law. I was a victim of torture during the Martial Law Regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

I was detained under the pretext ‘cup of coffee’ by the military. I was offered, they say ‘a cup of coffee’ (when they arrested me for questioning) as they speak to me. And then as soon, I was made to board on a military jeep to their camp. I was told to first (disclose) my (personal) history. I did not. They force me to confess using force intimidation and all sorts of actions to make me comply with what they wanted.

First when I did not comply to their requirements to (disclose) my personal history they use dos por dos (a length of wood measuring 2×2), they beat my back, head and arm. It was dos por dos (that they used in assaulting me). For every question, whether (my reply was) right or not they hit me.

So I decided not to talk anymore because they were asking about the history of my brothers and sisters. I was the first amongst our siblings who was apprehended by the military at that time. We are nine siblings (in our family). I was the first person to be arrested. I was not able to elude the arrest so they got me. I was made to undress. They apply electricity on my penis, my testicles and when they would not accept any answer except for whatever thing I say they always hit me with the dos por dos. And a military instrument thing that later I came to know called kaburata.

Q: What is kaburata?

Victim: It looks like an eggplant. It is quite long. If it is used to inflict damage (pain) on a person’s body, it will not leave any torture marks (wound). The injured part would only swell and inflame. I was place under this interrogation from time to time. I could not tell the time because I was inside the (detention) cell. It was a cemented cell with iron bars. I would not know the time. I am just awakened by their siren. I did not know what particular time of the day (it was). Their siren awoke me and the light inside my cell was coloured red. (The lights) turns off, then on, then off, then on; and here comes my interrogator. I was asked questions sometimes. I was asked to drink liquid. They told me “it’s ok” and it was only a coffee.

Perhaps I was so hungry and thirsty. I just kept on drinking. Whatever the true nature of that liquid, I could not tell but I know it tastes bitter. So, I could not tell how long they had interrogated me. What I only know is that, every time they awaken me, they kept on asking about my siblings.

At first, they were asking whether I am my brother, Jose Luneta. They are forcing me to admit that I am my brother, Jose Luneta. What I thought, for me not to suffer any longer, why don’t I just admit it. So, I said yes. For some time they really believed that I was my brother, Jose. But by the day, obviously I was lying. They came to know that I was lying that I am not my brother. But for those people who knew me, I’m told that I really looked like my brother.

But later, again, they refused to believe that I was not Jose, they tortured me again. They forced me to admit that I know where Pepe (nickname of his brother Jose) is now. But I knew nothing about it. In fact, our siblings were separated from each other. We do not know where each one lives and had gone to.

Q: When you were adducted, could you still remember how old you were, what organisation you were part of and what organisation are you actively involved in at that time?

Victim: Kabataang Makabayan (KM). (It is a) youth organization. Actually, there were three of us who were told to organize the youth in the ST (Southern Tagalog) region. We complied with it because we were obedient youths. We were able to organise (the youth) in some provinces. There were many of us who were involved in organizing. Perhaps, KM was very popular at the time, there were so many of us.

It was because of the youth’s discontent (of Martial Rule), the organisation was so popular, they were looking for us like ‘like bees to honey’ (pulot sa pukyutan).

Q: When you were abducted, were you inside a house or in school?

Victim: I was with my girlfriend in their house. I was taken while I was at the house of my girlfriend because I (was ignorantly) went with the soldiers for ‘cup of coffee’. I rode on a military jeep.

Q: How many were they?

Victim: Three. But I did not know that there were others, wearing plain clothes, riding on another vehicle, following us. I came to know about it much later. I could say that because that is what I was told, too. But for those who were inside the military jeep, there were four of us. I could not know whether they took me (to the camp) right away or whatever. But once I boarded the jeep, they blindfolded me telling me that it was to prevent the dust from going into my eyes.

But soon after blindfolding me, they started asking me questions and I also started ridiculing them. You know, youth usually ridicules when they respond. But I do feel that there was something, and I started to feel concern. Of course! It was the military who arrested me. They started assaulting me. The one asking question was behind my back. So, every time he dislikes my reply to his question, he hit me. I started lying. All of what I have said was trying draw their attention to something else, that ‘I do not know anything’.

Q: What was that they were using to hit you? And which part of your body were you beaten?

Victim: (It was) Kaburata. Usually, they hit me in the nape of my neck, sometimes in my shoulders.

Q: Until you reach to the camp?

Victim: I do not know whether it was a camp or not. What I know, even after reaching to the place, they did not remove my blindfold. They dragged me inside the cemented detention cell. I heard the thud of my shoes. At that time, wearing boots was fashionable. I was wearing boots at that time, so I could hear the sound. I came to know that it was a cemented detention cell only after they threw me in and I heard the thud of my shoes. And every time they open the structure, you could hear a sound that you could hear probably made of steel. They pushed me in so I fell to the ground.

Afterwards, I was made to sit. When they started questioning me, I was still blindfolded. Then they slapped my face, they stopped hitting my head and face.

Q: How long were you held in military custody?

Victim: I could not tell whether it was daytime or nigh time. All I know is that I was there. I do not know whether my interrogator was a homosexual because he always kept on playing with my sex organ.

Q: While you are being questioned?

A: He was playing and sometimes hitting my sex organ. Perhaps that person had sexual aberration. They hit me, they ask me questions, but there is nothing that I can tell them. Even if I knew something, I will never tell them. Usually, even me, I had to tell a ‘story telling a lie’. I was held in military custody for six months.

Q: Did you know when were you surfaced?

Victim: I was surfaced because Amnesty International came to know that I was there. There was someone who made a report (of my detention), perhaps it was TFD (Task Force Detainees of the Philippines). It was TFD who told me that I was close to dying when they saw me. I was hardly given any food at that time. And even if I was given food, they only give me coffee and sometimes my interrogators spat in it. And when I taste it, it was already salty. I was presuming that perhaps sometimes, they peed on it.

Shortly after, they electrocuted me. They electrocuted my sex organ and my testicles.

Q: Do you mean in six months, the electrocution on you did not stop?

Victim: Sometimes, for a period of time none. I would know when they were about to electrocute me because I could hear the siren before they do it.

Q: Do you also mean that you were on blindfold for six months? Were your hands tied also?

Victim: I was blindfolded and my handcuffs were attached to my bed made of iron. And should they want to electrocute me, they could just pour water on me so it would be easy for them to apply electric current on my body.

Q: How about food, were you able to eat three times a day?

Victim: Very irregular. Even if I was fed three times a day; however, what they give me is a coffee like substance. They also fed me with, what they told me, pandesal (small piece of bread) very rarely. Perhaps, my interrogators fed me only when they could remember that they needed to feed me.

When I saw myself after I was release, I was so thin and my stomach looks like it doesn’t have anything in it. And since I have no food to eat, I just eat whatever they give me. I was so hungry. I did not bother anymore whether the food that they gave me had drugs on it. I just ate and ate. I had to eat. I also drank that liquid substance that told me coffee even though it tasted very salty.

Q: What do you think was the motive why you were invited for ‘cup of coffee’?

Victim: At first, I know that it was a military arrest, but about what they would do to me, I had no idea at all. I do not know what will happen to me. It was my first time to have been arrested and have problems like that.

Q: At that time, did you think of not going with the military?

Victim: What can I do? If I refuse to come, they will make trouble at the house of my girlfriend. I notice that her mother was already frightened. She was frightened that her daughter, my girlfriend, would also be taken. I told her she need not to worry because she has nothing to do with my problem

Q: Do you mean, when you were held by the military, you were not visited?

Victim: No. I had no visitors. Nobody knows except the military that I was held in detention at their camp.

Q: Was it only after six months that you were able to see you family again?

Victim: I did not see my family first. It was a friend, who was asked by my family, who came to see me first.

Q: What did the military say about your case? Did you have a case at all?

Victim: Nothing. When I was surfaced after I disappeared (in the military custody) for six months, they told me: “It is your fault because you are a member of Kabataang Makabayan (ikaw kasi eh miyembro ka ng KM kaya)”. I’m told that it was the reason of my arrest and that I was also involved in recruiting youth who would be member of KM.

Q: So, meaning there was no clear case at all?

Victim: I was told by Amnesty International that there was no charge on me. There was nothing.

Q: I would like to ask you about the Anti-Torture Law, now (unlike during Martial Law) that we already have a law against torture, what do you think of this?

Victim: All of what has been written as prohibited under the Anti-Torture Law has been done to me. I am not sure whether that ‘truth telling substance’ (sodium pentothal — truth serum), have been given to me as well. They fed me so many things that I could not tell whether it would be detrimental to myself. What I know is that I kept on talking every time I drank that bitter liquid substance that they gave me.

Q: What was reason why you were not release immediately since there were no charges on you?

Victim: They told me, they were waiting for my siblings to be arrested; and that they would also question them. But what I thought that after four years (of detention after I was surfaced), my siblings have already been arrested so perhaps they loosen on me. Perhaps, they had known also that my involvement (with the KM) was not that deep as they thought as I do.

(After I was released) nobody would like to talk to me. Everybody was so afraid. In our place, all of my friends have also been arrested. Some of them have disappeared.

Q: For four years after you were release, what was the effect of torture and the electrocution on you?

Victim: It took me a long time before I fully recovered. My children told me that sometimes they hear me shouting after I awake from sleep. Up to know, I continue to experience this. When I wake up, I was heavily sweating. I (feel) that the way I speak seems I am frightened. It took me a long time to be integrated because in our time there were no welfare components (in terms of assistance) for ex-political prisoners.

So, I drifted along by going to one organization to another organization looking for something to keep me by hoping that they could help me to stay alive. I feel that my fear usually emerges during night time, and I feel the weakening of my lungs, could be one of the effects of torture–maybe because (during my detention) my back was exposed to cement floor since there was no cover on it when I lie down to sleep. I feel that my lungs are weakened. I still feel pain on my head, particularly the part where they it was beaten. I feel that my being grumpy is also the effect of torture. I was not like this before and I should not be like this.

The feeling of being angry at persons, every time I hear a person raising his voice in speaking to me, I felt this type of person is my enemy. But I am not sure whether this is one of the effect of torture.

Q: So, how many months or years before you were able to recover?

A: I could not completely get over from it. On many occasions, I still feel terror and fear. I fear when I see military uniform and vehicles. Although I could overcome it, recently I thought to myself that I could control it, but the tendency of me (of feeling terror and fear) is too high.

Q: Are you still frightened when you see a military uniform and jeep?

A: Anything associated with the military (I feel frightened).

Q: Have you undergone post trauma therapy?

Victim: That is what is unfortunate. Nothing. The MAG (Medical Action Group), they only give me medicines when I get sick. My eardrum was ruptured and I had hearing loss due to interrogation. I was only given medicine to alleviate my hearing loss.

Q: When you were released, did you go with them (family members)? Were you not able to go home immediately?

Victim: I do not know. Although I was told that my father had also been detained for two weeks and the rest of the adult members of our family, but I did not know that. I came to know about this only after my family visited me after my release from jail.

Q: What do you think of the Anti Torture Law? Do you think this would be effective?

A: Ok (sign of approval to the law). This all depends on who would implement this law and also with the vigilance of the victims; however, even if there is already a law on torture, some of those in the military could still get away with it by torturing a person to death. We have a documented case wherein the victim disappeared and could no longer be located. He was abducted in open view of the public and they also know where he was taken, but they do not know whether he is still alive or dead.

Q: Had there been a law on torture during Martial Law, would you use the law to prosecute the perpetrators?

Victim: Yes. In fact, I also filed charges (against the perpetrators) but I do not know where it was filed. I know victims/detainees must not be tortured. We were victims (of torture) before, but we remain victims now because we were delisted (from the list of beneficiaries of claimants for compensation who are victims of Martial Law). But it is still OK. I still have my children to pursue my case. I will be very cautious not to be arrested, again. But I will still continue the work that I do for our fellow countrymen, for the Filipino masses, because I know that what I do is what is right.

Q: Do you have any message to other victims of torture?

Victim: They should remain strong because they know the risk of what they are into. This (torture) can never be acceptable in the International Law. If they will not hear us inside our country, we should unite with others who are working for the interest of the political prisoners.

Q: Do you have a message to the government, particularly on the implementation of the Anti-Torture Law?

Victim: (They should) make good the implementation of this Anti-Torture Law and all the other instruments against Human Rights Violation. This is the benchmark of being a civilized society.

——————–

The views shared in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

[Off the shelf] Mga rekomendasyon ng Komite Laban sa Tortyur ng U.N. para sa Gobyerno ng Pilipinas

Komiks ng Rekomendasyon ng Komite Laban sa Tortyur ng U.N. sa Gobyerno ng Pilipinas (inilathala ng Medical Action Group)

Ang dignidad natin bilang tao ang pinagmumulan ng ating mga Karapatang Pantao. Ito ang pagkilala ng halaga ng pagkatao ng bawat isa sa atin. Samakatuwid, ang pagkakaroon ng mga Karapatang Pantao ang pamantayan ng isang buhay na may dignidad.

Isa ito sa pangunahing gawain ng Medical Action Group (MAG) ang itaguyod at ipagtanggol ang Karapatang Pantao lalo na’t ang karapatan sa kalusugan. At kasama sa gawain na ito ang pagbigay ng serbisyong medikal at sikolohikal sa mga biktima ng paglabag sa Karapatang Pantao at ang kanilang mga kaanak.

Katuwang ng aming gawain sa larangan ng pagtataguyod ng karapatan sa kalusugan, ang paglulunsad ng mga gawaing pang-edukasyon at pagsasanay para sa Karapatang Pantao.

Nilalayon ng babasahin na ito sa porma ng komiks na ipaalam ang tortyur ay isa sa pinakamatinding paglabag sa dignidad ng tao at ang obligasyon ng ating gobyerno na supilin at puksain ang tortyur matapos itong sumang-ayon dahil sa paglagda nito sa Kumbensyon Laban sa Tortyur at iba pang Di Makatao na Pagtrato at Pagpaparusa (Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment or CAT). Nakasaad din sa Artikulo III, Seksyon 12 (2) ng ating Saligang Batas na ipinagbabawal at mananagot sa batas ang gagamit laban sa sino mang tao “ng labis ng pagpapahirap, pwersa, dahas, pananakot, pagbabanta, o ano pa mang paraan na pipinsala sa kanyang malayang pagpapasya.”

Makakatulong ang ganitong babasahin na maipaalam sa publiko ang mga kaalaman at hakbang upang sugpuin ang tortyur sa pamamagitan ng pagpapatupad ng Mga Rekomendasyon sa Gobyeno ng Pilipinas ng Komite Laban sa Tortyur (United Nations Committee Against Torture Concluding Observations) noong nag-ulat ang ating gobyerno sa ika-42 sesyon ng Komite Laban sa Tortyur noong 27 Abril-15 Mayo 2009 sa Geneva, Switzerland.

Lubos kami nagpapasalamat sa DKAAustria upang mapalimbag at maibahagi ang babasahing ito.

Sa tulong nina Edgar Cabalitan ng Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) at Mercidita de Joya ng MAG, naisalin sa Filipino ang United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) Concluding Observations at nailathala ito sa pamamaraan ng komiks.

Kinikilala ng MAG ang mga non-government organizations at human rights groups na bumubuo ng United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines na nagtataguyod ng kampanya para sa kalayaan sa tortyur, sa kanilang ibinahagi na kaalaman at mga karanasan upang mabuo ang komiks na ito.

Mabuhay kayo! At maraming salamat.

Petronilo Lenin Pascual, MD
President
Medical Action Group

[From the web] An interview with a torture victim (Part 1) published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Published by AHRC on May 23, 2011

An interview with a torture victim published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Torture victims speak out on the practice of torture — Interview 1

SPECIAL REPORT
Torture in the Philippines & the unfulfilled promise of the 1987 Constitution

OVERVIEW: The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is publishing from today interviews conducted with victims of torture. This series of interviews will discuss, not only about how torture victims suffers while in the custody of the security forces, but the real obstacles in pursuing legal remedies within the system of justice.

Apart from torture victims themselves, the interviews will also include the families of the victims, human rights defenders and legal practitioners, who are helping torture victims–not only in pursuing the prosecution of cases in court–but also for their treatment and rehabilitation from the trauma that they experienced.

Interview 1: “My experience frightens other farmers

In this first interview, a torture victim who led a farmer organisation speaks about his and his colleagues’ experience of torture while in police custody. Upon his request, we are withholding his personal identity and other details for his safety. This is the unofficial translation of his interview done in Filipino:

Victim: I am 67 years old, married, and had three children and five grandchildren. I was arrested in August 30, 2007 and taken to the Camp Vicente Lim. They blindfolded and tied my hands.

For 36 hours, I was not given water to drink and food to eat. I only had food on the third day of my detention with the help of my lawyer. I was lucky because my colleagues were so quick in locating me after I was arrested.

When I was in police custody, I was tortured physically, psychologically and also threatened with death. Most of the time, they (the perpetrators) assaulted me. They hit my chest hard if I refused to answer their question; they also threaten to harm my family if I refused to confess to them the ‘truth’ that they want me to confess.

I believe that what the police and the military are doing in the way of torture is a criminal offense because they are using torture to force a person to admit to a crime that they did not commit. They usually torture activists and peasant leaders. Even in other organisations, if their colleagues are unable to respond quickly to locate their colleagues following his arrest, most of them would disappear; others, their bodies would only be found elsewhere.

In my case, had my colleagues failed to respond to quickly, I could have also been dead at this time.

Q: Could you elaborate more about how you were physically tortured?

Victim: They punched my chest hard once.

Q: What question they usually asked from you?

Victim: They were asking whether I am a communist, if I am a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). I denied all their allegations. I know that I am only a leader of a farmer’s organization.

Q: Could you tell us more about the threats on your family?

Victim: They told me they would make trouble with my family. They told me they will also arrest them. They told me many (other) things. Even on the last night of my detention, they made noise on purpose by shaking the padlock of my detention cell. I heard them saying: “we will take that elderly person and kill him (ung matandang nandiyan dukutin natin at atin ng patayin)”.

That is what they did to me. They really did it on purpose for me to hear. I had to awake my fellow detainees when I hear it. But had it happened (being taken out his cell) I would definitely make noise to draw the attention of my colleagues.

Q: How about on your first day of detention, what else did they do to you while you were blindfolded?

Victim: Many things. They told me they kill me in lieu of a farmer leader that they were not able to kill. That was what they did to me. While I was blindfolded, they shone the flashlight on purpose to my eyes. What I could see is a very bright light. That is what they did to me; again they repeatedly told me that they would kill me because they were not able to kill that leader. They said that said since I am a leader, they would also kill me.

I think it was early dawn (because I could hear a crowing chicken). When I was blindfolded, I heard a child crying. They told me, when I heard the child crying, that: “you see, you’re the father of this child”. When I heard this, and after they (supposedly told the child) that I was there, the child cried even more. I was really extremely frightened because I thought that they had already taken my whole family with them. I thought of this because at first they told me that they would also take my family. I was really extremely frightened at that time. I thought the one who was crying was my grandchild.

After I was release from their custody, I was traumatized due to this experience.

Q: Did you know whether the one crying was a boy or a girl?

Victim: I was certain it was a child. But I thought it was pre-recorded and they played it to frighten me even more.

Q: Could you tell us what trauma you have experienced?

Victim: Every time I hear a loud noise, for example battle scenes; or I see a person wearing military uniform on television, I ask someone else to turn it off. That was the fear that I had experienced. But now I think I have recovered.

Q: After you were abducted, torture, falsely prosecuted in court and after having your case dismissed, how do you feel now? How did you get on with your family members and with the farmers as well?

Victim: In terms of my family, I did not have a problem. But it is more of my own fear, my experience which also created fear amongst the farmers’ organisation (in my community) that they (some of his colleagues) were already refusing to let me enter in their homes unlike before that they were very accommodating. They were frightened that what had happened to me could also be done to them. That was the effect on me and for my work.

Q: After the incident, was your life ever normal again like what it used to be? Were you still able to do things that you usually did before you were arrested and tortured?

Victim: Not anymore! I was not able to return to our homes for over a year. I had to live in somebody else’s houses. I choose not to return home until I was finally exonerated from the false charges. In those days, I lived in fear and had to be in hiding.

Q: Could you tell us your opinion about the torture that you have experienced? About what the police and the military had done to you?

Victim: I thought it (torture) was a doing of criminals. Firstly, because they forced me to admit to an offense I did not really commit. They hurt you to force you to admit whatever allegations they would have on you.

Q: Now that we already have a law against Torture, what is your opinion on this?

Victim: I think it would be better if the law would be strictly implemented. But if the law is not be implemented it is also meaningless. I think there should be an effective implementation of the law, if there is really such a law.

Q: What do you mean about how to implement the law?

Victim: I mean the government must implement it because it is also the government (and those who are in the government) who violate this law.

Q: If you would be given a choice, had the torture on you happened when the law took effect, would you be willing to file a case in court?

Victim: Perhaps not anymore.

Q: Why?

A: In my experience, of course you can file a case in court if there are violations, but until I can see that something really happens to these cases in court, it would not be able to convince myself to pursue my case. I must see that someone could be punished first. I’m not sure if you have seen on television about the torture video case of (Darius Evangelista). Were the policemen involved punished?

Q: Do you have any further message to victims of torture like you, to the Philippine government after the Anti-Torture Act have been enacted?

Victim: To my colleagues, that they should continue their work with caution. They should show to others that there is nothing wrong in what they do; and that what the police do in illegally arresting person is wrong. They (the police) have no proof that those persons whom they are arresting had committed wrongdoings, but they still continue to arrest them. And those in the government, they should implement the law in real sense and they should not punish persons that they are not sure had committed wrong doing.

Q: How about a message to victims of torture?

Victim: This is just a test on them as (human rights and political activists) leaders. We have already expected this to happen to us and it does happen. As long as those in the government do not serve us in real sense, this will continue to happen. We should continue to take precautions always.

—————-
The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

# # #

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

Visit our new website with more features at www.humanrights.asia.

« Older Entries