|Photo by MAG|
On its seventh year, as it marks the June 26 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, members of the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines and various anti-torture advocates runs in the “Basta! Run Against Torture 7” (BRAT VII) to call on the government to make the Philippines a Torture Free Zone.
To make the Philippines a torture free zone, the UATC said “among others we need to ensure that all authorities including jail staff are fully aware of the Anti-Torture Law that reported violations will not be tolerated and will be investigated, and that perpetrators will be prosecuted.”
“While we laud the government on the enactment of the Anti-Torture Law (Republic Act No. 9745) in November 2009, but it has so far been implemented without diligence and effectiveness since many torture allegations have not been effectively investigated by authorities and detainees who are in custody do not have immediate access to legal and medical services,” Ernesto Anasarias, Executive Director of Balay Rehabilitation Center and UATC spokesperson said.
While noting that many agencies have a mandate to investigate complaints of torture and ill-treatment, the UATC is concerned at the high number of complaints of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials, the limited number of investigations carried out by the government in such cases, and the very limited number of convictions in those cases which are investigated.
The group reiterates its concerns on the increasing complaints in relation to the implementation of the Anti-Torture Law which has revealed various different deficiencies from documentation, investigation to prosecution of torture cases, which embolden perpetrators in doing acts of torture.
“The authorities’ partiality not to comply with the Anti-Torture Law runs in the ‘institutional impunity’ we have right now. Take the recent case where Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim including a senior police officer, interrogated a rape suspect in full view of the public, as Mayor Lim extracted a confession and forced the suspect to admit he had raped a woman, clearly violated the Anti-Torture Law,” Max de Mesa, Chairperson of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) claimed.
The group underscored the necessity that for the government to make the Philippines a torture free zone, it should publicly announce a clear policy of “total elimination" of all acts of torture.
The UATC-Philippines is led by Amnesty International-Philippines, Balay Rehabilitation Center, Medical Action Group (MAG) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP). Other human rights groups also joined the run like PAHRA and Organisation Mondiale Contra la Torture (OMCT) or World Organization Against Torture.-end