Medical doctors can help to stop torture

  • June 26, 2011

Press release

June 26, 2011

Medical doctors can help to stop torture

This June 26, the Medical Action Group (MAG) and its members composed of medical doctors and health professionals are one with the world in commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

“Even though torture is a crime, torture persists as deep-rooted practice in the country. And majority of the perpetrators go unpunished and most victims are usually from marginalized sectors who lack resources to access lawyer and doctor they are entitled to,” said Edeliza P. Hernandez, Executive Director of MAG that treat torture victims.

26 June is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this day in 1987, the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment came into effect. The Philippines acceded to this Convention on June 18, 1986.

MAG said that effective medical documentation of torture can contribute in reducing impunity and obtaining redress. This in turn can be expected to help prevent torture in the future. Medical doctors can help stop torture by using the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment commonly known as the Istanbul Protocol.

“Since medical doctors are often among the first persons to come into contact with a torture survivor after the incident. Our medical doctors play an essential role in preventing impunity by effective medical documentation of torture cases like the torture case filed last April 7 at the Regional Trial Court in Kidapawan by Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 12 against a police officer and his subordinates after it concluded that they mishandled two suspects in the October 2010 bus bombing in Matalam, North Cotabato,” MAG emphasized.

MAG urges the government to institutionalize the use of the Istanbul Protocol since it has been affirmed by the Supreme Court the value of the Protocol in proving claims of torture. ([G.R. No. 180906, The Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo, October 7, 2008] on the application of the writ of amparo)

The government’s obligation to provide redress for human rights violations like torture cases entails the duty to ensure full reparation and to provide rehabilitation for victims and their relatives.

“In this respect, through a combination of effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act and the need for increased political will of our government officials are keys to prevent torture in the country,” MAG concluded.

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