Monday, June 28, 2010

Rights groups prod Aquino to go after gov’t torturers


Rights groups prod Aquino to go after gov’t torturers
http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100626nat5.html

06/26/2010

The human rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and relatives of political prisoners/detainees have joined members of the United Against Torture Coalition Philippines (UATC) and the freedom from torture advocates worldwide in commemorating the International Day in Support of Torture Victims by challenging President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to release all political prisoners/detainees who are most often also victims of torture and to prosecute their torturers.

“We celebrate the criminalization of a gross human rights violation such as torture through the Republic Act 9745, or the Anti-Torture Act, after decades of lobby and campaigns, but we also grieve that despite its passage torture still remains a practice among the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police,” TFDP executive director Emmanuel Amistad said.

“In fact TFDP documented the torture of four Dumagats in Dingalan town, Aurora province just a few weeks after President Arroyo signed RA 9745 on Nov. 10 last year. Worse is that the incident happened during the Human Rights Week 2009 celebration, when the military illegally arrested and tortured the four victims, forcing them to admit involvement with the communist rebel group New Peoples’ Army (NPA),” he added.

According to Amistad, the most recent case of Illegal arrest and torture was that of Hilo Idlao Aytag, 38, of Panaytayan village, Mansalay town, Oriental Mindoro province. He said Aytag, a member of the Mangyan tribe, was arrested last March 12 by members of the Army’s 4th Infantry Battalion who afterward tortured him to force him to admit his supposed membership in the NPA.

“Agents of the state continue to use torture with impunity to extract confessions and punish political offenders, human rights defenders, suspected rebels and even ordinary civilians despite the law under Arroyo’s claimed legacy of defeating insurgents,” he said.

TFDP records show there are 585 documented victims of torture under he outgoing President’s term and as of last June 15, there are 3,275 victims of illegal arrests and detention and a total of 271 political prisoners and political detainees languishing in jails nationwide.

“Now, under the incoming President Aquino’s administration, we cannot help but reiterate our ardent call for justice for all victims of torture. With the immediate implementation of RA 9745, Aquino must prosecute torturers and all human rights violators. We expect him to be different from Arroyo by breaking the impunity by which human rights violations are being committed by state forces. We ask that he release all political prisoners and go after their torturers,” Amistad said.

The human rights group official also challenged Aquino to sincerely declare zero tolerance for torture and torturers under his leadership; that no one shall be subjected to torture under his administration; and that violators of human rights will be jailed accordingly.

The TFDP commemorated the torture victims’ day with fellow advocates through the annual “Basta! Run Against Torture or BRAT IV” hosted by the UATC and which was held yesterday.

The run started 7 a.m. from the Commission on Human Rights office in Manila and ended at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on Quezon Avenue.

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