The Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG) recently conducted a three-day training on torture as one of its core programs. In full support of DKA Austria as the funding organization and in close collaboration with other human rights organizations, MAG organized a learning activity that focused on three important topics on torture. The seminar was conducted at Tower Inn, Davao City from April 28-30, 2010 participated by 25 NGOs from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
On the first day, MAG gave a lecture and discussion on the United Nations Conventions Against Torture (UNCAT) Concluding Observations and Recommendations to the Philippine government. MAG viewed that this was essential for the civil society organizations to further review the five (5) concluding observations and recommendations of UNCAT and to critically analyze the actions of the government on torture and other forms of human rights violations. The participants actively took part in the open forum as they presented their experiences and some torture and human rights violations in their community. Mr. Teodoro “Max” de Mesa, Chairperson of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), facilitated the lecture and discussion.
The second day covered the highlight or the focal point of the training which is the torture documentation using The Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1999 more commonly known as Istanbul Protocol (IP). The series of lectures started with the Istanbul Protocol headed by Ms. Edeliza Hernandez, MAG Executive Director followed by the Basic Documentation Tool facilitated by Dr. Amy Abcede and the Photographic Documentation by Ms. Cecil de Joya, both are MAG Project Coordinators. The facilitators welcomed questions and inquiries on how MAG documents torture cases medically, psychologically and legally.
The last day concentrated on the Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). This was led by Ms. Edeliza Hernandez who was then assisted by two participants, a lawyer and a law student in discussing and pointing out legal terms of the said law. The workshop aimed to cater suggestions and invited the NGO participants to provide their insights and recommendations on the IRR. Various stories and experiences were shared by our human rights defenders in Sulu and Basilan which are conflict areas. Other participants presented their cases on jail and detention visits and during their fact finding missions.
This learning endeavor as one of MAG’s activities with DKA Austria will be followed by a national dialogue with the government agencies like the Department of Justice (DOJ), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to then discuss and exchange ideas on the full implementation of the Anti-Torture Law on June 2010.