Statement from the Medical Action Group, Inc.
June 26, 2015
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (IDSVT)
BREAKING THE SILENCE FROM TORTURE IMPUNITY
Torture is considered a crime under the international human rights law. It is prohibited everywhere, at all times, and no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be used to justify it. However, the abominable practice of torture continues unabated throughout the world including the Philippines.
It most often takes place in places of detention – where people deprived of liberty are mistreated to extract information, to punish or to discriminate. Women and children in detention are most vulnerable to sexual violence. Many people are subjected to torture on the grounds of their sexual orientation, ethnic origins, political and religious beliefs, age or disabilities.
Yet, no one is punished for committing torture.
Torture has devastating effects not only to torture victims but also to their immediate families, communities and larger society. It is intended to silence the victims. Oftentimes, it is not the survivor's inability to speak but the fear of reprisal.
Once tortured is tortured for life.
Torture victims desperately need a help to mend their shattered bodies and mind from their traumatic experiences. But through rehabilitation they can reclaim their life and rebuild for their future, and that of their family and community.
As the world commemorates the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims every June 26, the Medical Action Group together with the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC- Philippines) stands in solidarity with victims of torture through the “Basta! Run Against Torture 9” (BRAT IX), to reiterate the demand for torture rehabilitation as a right and a responsibility for all us.
In the Philippines, despite the enactment of the Republic Act no. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law in 2009 which is purportedly aimed at ending torture impunity and giving meaningful implementation to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) to which the Philippines is party since June 1986, rehabilitation remains very elusive.
While the Philippine government in compliance with the anti-torture law has already crafted and approved a comprehensive rehabilitation programs for torture victims, it is still unclear on how rehabilitation program can be effectively implemented and be made accessible to victims and their families.
We therefore join hands with all other members of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) in over 70 countries in calling on the states especially those which have ratified the UNCAT to comply with their state obligations particularly on Article 14 or on the provision of rehabilitation for torture victims.
Breaking the silence against torture impunity is a start to give each and every torture survivor the chance to begin rebuilding their lives. It is our social responsibility to make it happen.