I did not know that the Philippines did not have anti torture laws. The fact is even if we had any it would not matter much. Killing is Illegal but journalist , judges, activist, government officials are being summarily executed for speaking out, for trying to make a difference. Laws don’t stop killings, Laws don’t stop tortures, PEOPLE STOP KILLING and TORTURE. As long as a majority of the Filipino people fail to face up to the realities of our country we cannot stop these inhumanities.
In fact, there remains no law criminalizing torture in the country.
“There is currently no law specifically penalizing acts of torture: criminal cases have to be filed against perpetrators of torture for crimes such as maltreatments; rape; murder if torture results in the death of the victim, etc,” the report states.
It adds: “This situation is contrary to the international commitments of the… Philippines under Article 7 of the ICCPR and the CAT.”
There is also no domestic law criminalizing enforced disappearances, the mission report notes.
Basas says an anti-torture bill has been filed in the House of Representatives during the 13th Congress, but despite overcoming hurdles in the House, the Senate failed to act on the bill.
“Now that the 13th Congress has adjourned, we have to re-file the bill again,” Basas says.
The fact-finding mission report also says the Human Security Act (HSA) or the local anti-terror law contains provisions that create an environment that increases the risk of human rights violations – including torture – being committed against detained suspects.
The new law expands the law enforcers’ powers of arrest and detention, increasing the chance of torture being inflicted on victims, the report points out.
The fact-finding mission “seriously doubts” that the mechanisms and initiatives reportedly put in place by the Armed Forces to ensure respect for human rights will work.
To address the phenomenon of torture in the country, the FIDH mission says the government should:
– Release all persons arbitrarily detained or to “bring charges against them and produce them before a court of law;”
– Stop using civilian auxiliaries of the AFP in the fight against terrorism and, as a minimum and immediate step, ensure that they are properly trained in the field of human rights and prevention of torture;
– End arbitrary labeling of groups as terrorists or enemies of the State without affording them the opportunity to challenge such assertions before the court;
– Seriously investigate all allegations of extra-judicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances involving law enforces and military personnel;
– Criminalize torture;
– Amend the HAS in conformance with the Philippines’ international human rights commitments;
– Ensure the inadmissibility in court of confessions obtained under duress;
– Compensate torture victims;
– Improve the government witness protection program; and
– Fulfill commitments to ICCPR and CAT.
Aside from these recommendations, Amnesty International-Pilipinas Executive Director Aurora Parong says the government should also ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), which is regarded as the most important development for the effective prevention of torture in the global arena.
“There’s no ifs and buts when it comes to torture. Torture is never acceptable, both during wartime and peacetime… This is one of every person’s non-derogable rights, one of the very basic human rights,” Parong says. – GMANews.TV