The IRCT welcomes a landmark resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly, calling on states to take immediate steps to ensure the protection of health workers across the world.
The first of its kind to recognise the severity of attacks on health professionals, facilities, and patients in all circumstances, the resolution comes at a time when a growing number of doctors, nurses, community health workers and other health providers are exposed to threats, violence and attacks.
Just last week, the office of IRCT member centre in Russia, Committee against Torture (NGO CAT) was destroyed in what appears to be an arson attack. The fire was the latest of a number of vicious attacks against NGO CAT and its leader Igor Kalyapin who had been exposed to several threats and acts of intimidation. Recently, other IRCT members in countries such as Morocco, Mexico and Bolivia have also experienced unprovoked attacks and death threats.
After four years the Philippine healthcare system under the Aquino administration remains bleak if not getting worse. Health care inequalities, failed public health financing, the continuous exodus of health care professionals, weak health care response to disaster and the lack of immediate health care provisions to victims of human rights violations characterized the ill-state of the Philippine Public Health System.
Inequities in Health Services
While the Philippine government claimed to gain a steady economic growth since President Aquino assumed office in 2010, there is a minimal improvement in poverty incidence as inequities in the access of health care services remain. 2012 Study of the Universal Health Care Study Group shows that 60% of Filipinos who die, die without being attended by health professionals. Even in birth mortality, among the rich, only 10 infants out of 1,000 live births die but among the poor, it is more than 90 infants.
Human rights groups urge the government to lead the way in the protection of human rights defenders in the ASEAN region
The Medical Action Group (MAG) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) urge the government to lead the way in the protection and defense of human rights defenders in the ASEAN region through enactment of a law on the protection of human rights defenders and conduct a comprehensive legislative audit in order to review and repeal laws which criminalize their work.
In a statement, “the Philippines should ensure that the leadership it shows in terms of promotion of human rights in the ASEAN is reflected in our national laws,” MAG and TFDP said.
Based on documentation of the MAG and TFDP, it is increasingly well documented that the use of laws to impede the activities of human rights defenders and to criminalize them is alarming.
“We have faced significant challenges on the field that in many cases, complaints by human rights defenders about alleged violations of their rights are not investigated or are dismissed without justification. For instance, the case of Antonio L. Tolentino, human rights defender and barangay chairperson of Barangay Hacienda Dolores in Porac, Pampanga, he is in detention since April this year due to lack of competent investigation into the charges filed by the private security agency employed by ,” Edeliza P. Hernandez, MAG Executive Director said.
Human Rights Day 2014: Psychosocial Support in focus with launch of Report
To mark this year’s Human Rights Day, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) together with the Medical Action Group (MAG) has launched the report ‘In Pursuit of Justice’, casting a light on psychosocial support for victims of torture in legal proceedings.
Psychosocial Support for victims of torture in the pursuit of justice is a key area within rehabilitation.
Fear of reprisals and re-traumatisation, no belief in the justice system and fear of stigmatisation from community or family members are some of the factors dissuading victims of torture from participating in legal proceedings against their perpetrators.
In addition, a trial is often an emotionally painful process during which the torture victim will require constant support from health and legal professionals to prevent re-traumatisation.
However, despite the potentially positive impact, the issue currently receives little attention. In general there is a lack of awareness of the degree to which torture can affect a victim’s testimony and therefore the impact that participation in legal proceedings can have on the victim’s psychological well-being.
By offering victims of torture specialised psychosocial support and access to justice programmes, centres can help them overcome the psychological burden of a trial, and also enhance the therapeutic impact of justice on the individual’s rehabilitation.
“On this Human Rights Day, the IRCT puts the spotlight on a critical yet neglected area within the fight against impunity and rehabilitation itself. The positive effects of psychosocial support to victims of torture in legal proceedings and to the fight against impunity cannot be ignored,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, IRCT Secretary-General.
The report is the result of a fruitful collaboration between our organisation and the IRCT, with the valuable contribution of torture victims and the professionals working to support them.
A discussion in the light of World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2014
The Medical Action Group (MAG) has recently received a query from AB Communication undergraduate students of the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) who are conducting a study on the health condition of mentally-ill inmates in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) as part of their academic requirements. An SMS and later a formal letter was sent and addressed to Dr. Amy Ng Abcede, Head of the Documentation and Services Program.
To make our response institutional, the MAG staff members have discussed and deliberated the issue and come up with the following insights.
We are posting this response in order to further encourage a discourse on the issue and clearly shape up MAG’s official position.
“Do mentally ill patients share the same rights and limitations as regular prisoners? Is it humane to keep them imprisoned if they are in a mentally delicate condition?”