June 26, 2014

Fight Impunity, Demand for Accountability

Today, we, the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines and various anti-torture advocates on the eight consecutive year mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture through the “Basta! Run Against Torture 8” (BRAT VIII) as we renew our resonating call to stop torture and to fight impunity.
While the UATC recognizes the significant improvement in the legal protection against torture in the Philippines, we observed that the implementation of the law and policies has not been made so far with due diligence and efficacy as torture remains prevalent and is still being committed with total impunity. Every year, we are expecting new cases to undoubtedly arise.

The Republic Act 9745, otherwise known as the Anti-Torture Law of 2009 was purportedly enacted to give a meaningful implementation for the UN Convention Against Torture which the Philippines is a state party but remains only good in paper. These observations are clearly reflected in our Torture Impunity Report that will be presented this afternoon to the relevant government agencies in a forum sponsored by the European Union.
We welcome the reaffirmation of the Philippine government’s commitment to the prevention and eradication of torture but it will not spell any difference in the human rights situation in the country without any serious efforts to comply with its state obligations to refrain torture from happening, to bring the perpetrators to justice, and to provide full rehabilitation as possible for torture victims. We therefore challenge the Aquino government to follow the very letter and intent of the law as his government’s inaction towards torture allegations already begets institutional impunity.

The discovery of the “Wheel of Torture” at the Philippine National Police (PNP) satellite detention facility in Biñan, Laguna has proven once again that the state security forces have become emboldened in doing acts of torture. In this case, ordinary detainees who were arrested for illegal drugs are shown to be routinely subjected to torture to extract information, to extort bribes and even to make fun of them.  It is not only a failure on the part of the state to implement its own law but most importantly to protect its own citizen.

Today as we continue our yearly run to speak up against this abhorrent violation of human rights and human dignity, we call on the public to help us dislodged all instruments of torture and reinstate the “Wheel of Justice”.

The “Wheel of Justice” is not simply demanding for the court to take action. It goes beyond the institutional system of impunity. The “Wheel of Justice” may only turn fast when there is accountability, redress of grievances, prevention, safeguard and protection against abuses, respect for human rights and human rights education, provision of rehabilitation and guarantee of non- repetition. This can only be made possible through our collective action.
For every torture victim who is silenced, there is another person or another community, who has no opportunity to make their situation known. Thus, we salute those who have survived torture and found courage to stand against this atrocious practice. We are one with them in their journey to make the world free from torture.

The “Wheels of Justice” do turn slowly. But if we will stand together, justice will be certainly served.