Statement delivered by representative of the Medical Action Group (MAG) and the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)- Philippines on the situation of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDT) in the Philippinesduring the NGO briefing, 26th April 2016, for the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) 57th session review of the Philippines on 27th and 28th April in Geneva, Switzerland.
The report submitted by the Government of the Philippines in relation to the Committee has been reviewed with care. We, the Medical Action Group (MAG) a national health and human rights non-government organization in the Philippines and a member of the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines, and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), note with great concern the following issues:Prompt and effective medical documentation, and training of medical doctors
The anti-torture mandates detailed medico-legal examinations when there are allegations or other indications of torture and ill-treatment. However, there are insufficient legal safeguards for detainees including but not limited to restricted access to independent doctors and failure to notify detainees of their rights at the time of detention. Even when medical screening take place, they often fail to achieve their goal of identifying indications that torture has taken place. This means that full investigations are often not triggered despite clear indications that torture has taken place.
Furthermore, when there are clear allegations or other indications of torture, the medico-legal examinations carried out do not comply with the standards of the anti torture law nor the Istanbul Protocol.
MAG have observed that doctors often simply undertake a “cursory physical examination” without bothering to ask how an injury may have been sustained by the patient or not including in their report a finding that torture may have been committed. MAG particularly notes that some medical personnel experience pressure from authorities allegedly involved in torture cases. It cited incidents where police officials are present during physical and medical examinations and, in some cases, supervise the work of medical doctors themselves. There are no real safeguards in place to ensure that health personnel are not subjected to police intimidation, are able to examine victims independently of the police, and able to maintain the confidentiality of medical reports.
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