June 1, 2012
Human rights groups call on the government to adopt the recommendation on absolute prohibition of torture
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Philippines at the United Nations Human Rights Council last May 29, 2012 resonated with civil society issues regarding among others the absolute prohibition of torture.
“A number of human rights violations, including against the freedom from torture was highlighted during the session, especially with respect to ensuring that victims of torture and ill-treatment had effective access to a medical evaluation and the establishment of a rehabilitation program for torture victims,” Medical Action Group (MAG) said.
There are States commended the Philippines in enacting the Anti-Torture Law however despite this use of torture continues among and by State security forces and law enforcement agencies.
MAG said that various States also called on the Philippine government to enhance human rights-based training for all law enforcement personnel on the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.
“We support the recommendations made by various States specifically from Denmark and Ireland to effectively implement the Anti-Torture Act, with a particular focus on ensuring that all alleged victims of torture and ill-treatment have effective access to a medical evaluation of their injuries by institutionalizing the use of the Istanbul Protocol and the establishment of a sufficiently resourced rehabilitation program for torture victims,” MAG said.
The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Chairperson Max M. de Mesa added that “government with its security forces must determinedly address the continuing impunity of torture, enforced disappearance and extra-judicial killings, which are mostly perpetrated and perpetuated by disregarding the exercise of its obligation of command responsibility. It must also be noted that many of the victims are human rights defenders who earlier were vilified and/or criminalized.”
In total, sixty seven (67) States participated in the discussion posed a series of recommendations to Philippines during the 13th Session of the UPR. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/Highlights29May2012am.aspx These included, among others:
- To step up efforts to fully prohibit and address cases of torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and ensure there were mechanisms in place to address such cases;
- To ensure that victims of torture and ill treatment had effective access to a medical evaluation; to improve the condition of prisons and detention centers;
- To ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders and journalists and effectively investigate and prosecute attacks against journalists and to introduce into domestic law strong legislation prohibiting these acts and imposing criminal penalties;
- To step up efforts to combat human trafficking and to strengthen relations with countries of transit and origin for victims of human trafficking and to establish programs for the rehabilitation and social integration for women victims of sexual exploitation;
- To step up efforts to combat child labor and to fully prohibit corporal punishment; to increase measures on the rights to education to ensure equal access to education for all children, to special attention for children with disabilities and street children; and
- To consider establishing legislation to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons.
“Let's all cross our fingers for majority of the recommendations would be accepted by the Philippine government and on the adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on the Philippines on Friday, June 1.” MAG concluded.