Tuesday, February 4, 2014

“Wheel of torture” symbolizes culture of torture impunity in the Philippines

Press release
February 3, 2014

“Wheel of torture” symbolizes culture of torture impunity in the Philippines

The existence of “wheel of torture” game at a Philippine National Police (PNP) detention facility in Biñan, Laguna where detainees are reportedly tortured by authorities and its discovery by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) last week only shows of what it seems everywhere before you is a sight of impunity.

“While noting the action by the CHRP in its inspection of the PNP lock-up cell in Laguna, is deeply concerned on the existence of such detention facility which only confirms the consistent and on-going allegations of routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody, “ the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines said.

In light of this situation, the government and even the CHRP seemed to have overlooked one thing: zero-tolerance of torture and full implementation of the Anti-Torture Law. More importantly, the discovery of the secret detention facility has further set the stage of existing culture of torture impunity in the Philippines.

The UATC- Philippines stressed that this lamentable situation reinforces the need for a more systematic and diligent implementation of the Anti-Torture Law to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice, that torture survivors receive medical and legal services and other forms of redress, and that the authorities and the public are made aware of such practices in order to ensure zero-tolerance of torture.

“The existence of secret detention facility indicates the government’s reluctance to ensure full implementation of the Anti-Torture Law. In this case, the CHRP should carry out random inspection of police station lock-up cells and conduct unannounced inspection of all detention facilities as mandated by law and ensure implementation of the PNP Memorandum-Directive of 4 November 2008 concerning inspection of lock-cells,” the UATC- Philippines emphasized.

The UATC- Philippines reiterated that “suspension and dismissal of from service of the 10 suspected torturers are not enough. Cases should be filed against the alleged perpetrators under the Anti-Torture Law and prosecute perpetrators.”

The adoption of the Anti-Torture Law in 2009 is a significant improvement to the legal environment in torture prevention in the Philippines. However, four years since the law took effect the number of cases brought to court against perpetrators remains a drop in the bucket. These problems are highlighted when one looks at the practical situation on the grounds where there is lack of effective monitoring and reporting of cases of torture cases and the lack of competence of authorities to effectively investigate and prosecute these cases.

The UATC- Philippines urges the CHRP to immediately convene the Oversight Committee (as mandated by the Anti-Torture Law, Sec.20) in order to initiate reform in ensuring effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Law, and to take all necessary measures to implement its visitation mandate which include unhampered and unrestrained access to all PNP detention facilities, including those under the jurisdiction of the military.

The UATC- Philippines calls on the PNP to fully comply with the Anti-Torture Law and to comply with its “zero-tolerance” policy on the use of torture among all its rank and file, and conduct inventory and inspection of all PNP custodial facilities from regional, provincial, city to municipal police units and lock-up cells nationwide.

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

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