January 24, 2013
Investigators from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) are undergoing training this week to improve the prosecution of torture cases and strengthen human rights and the rule of law in the Philippines.
Shown in photo are (from left): Steph Lysaght, First Secretary at British Embassy; DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan II; PCS Nestor Fajura, Chief PNP Human Rights Affairs Office) and Edeliza Hernandez, MAG Executive Director.
The programme, organised by Medical Action Group (MAG) with funding from the British Embassy, will boost the capacity to preserve and process physical and medical evidences that should have probative value in court.
The training started on 23 January in Manila with the first batch of forty-five (45) investigators and prosecutors. Other training sessions will be conducted in Baguio, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Davao. In addition, selected graduates will receive further training as trainers for investigators and prosecutors in other parts of the country.
DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III strongly underlined the Philippine Government’s view that torture is wrong, and clearly there is no place for torture in this country or anywhere else in the world.
PCSupt. Nestor M. Fajura, head of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office added, “It is imperative to strengthen the investigative capability of the PNP, who must be one step ahead in techniques, strategies and skills in their work particularly in the investigation of alleged human rights violations like cases of torture.”
Representing the British Embassy, First Secretary Steph Lysaght said that “Government and institutions are not mere bricks and mortar, they are about people. So the greatest responsibility and the greatest opportunity lies with them to make a positive difference. The fruits of these training sessions will help build greater trust in these institutions.”
“This training programme is unique in that it will not only provide investigators and prosecutors with the tools to improve how they process and present medical evidence, it will help strengthen collaboration between the PNP, the DOJ and civil society. This is an example of the openness and ongoing improvement that is necessary for delivering positive results,” he added.
“This is to emphasise the close collaboration between the legal and police professions. However, investigators and prosecutors must often have limited knowledge and understanding of and insight into each other’s work and may even view each other with scepticism. This training, for the first time, of investigators and prosecutors is crucial process in providing them common ground and framework to work on the application of international standards for effective investigation and successful prosecution of torture cases in the country.” Erlinda Senturias, M.D., Chairperson of MAG explained.
- The British Embassy Manila through its Human Rights and Democracy Programme is providing funding for the project “Enhancing the Capacity of the Prosecutors and Investigators for Effective Investigation and Increased Prosecution of Torture Cases Using Medical Evidence.”
- The DOJ, PNP and MAG have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the implementation of said project on November 15, 2012. Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima; Mr. Steph Lysaght, Political Section Head of the British Embassy Manila; Police Chief Superintendent Nestor M. Fajura of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office and Dr. Senturias of MAG signed the MOA, while Atty. Milabel A. Cristobal of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) witnessed the MOA signing.
- On November 22, 2012, Administrative Order No. 35http://www.gov.ph/2012/11/22/
administrative-order-no-35-s-created a body, “Inter-agency committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.” 2012
- The UN Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Istanbul Protocol”), is the international standard that provides medical and legal professions with tools for investigating, assessing and reporting allegations of torture.
- Since 2004, the MAG has been increasingly engaged in capacity development among health and legal professionals on the investigation and documentation of torture cases according to the international standards set by “the Istanbul Protocol,” which provides medical and legal professions with tools for investigating, assessing and reporting allegations of torture.