Brits fund training to boost prosecution of torture cases

THE British Embassy has partnered with the civic society, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to further strengthen human rights and the rule of law in the Philippines to be able to improve the prosecution of torture cases.

A statement from the British Embassy said the PNP and the DOJ are working together with a non-governmental organization, the Medical Action Group (MAG), in a project funded by the embassy to improve the prosecution of torture cases.

Investigators from the PNP and prosecutors from the DOJ will undergo training that will boost their capacity to preserve and process physical and medical evidence that should have probative value in court.

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 program 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.

Undersecretary Francisco Baraan 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.

“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 allegedhuman rights violations like cases of torture,” C/Supt. Nestor M. Fajura, head of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office, said.

“This is to emphasize 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.       Jun Pisco