Philippines urged to implement ban on tortures

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Human rights groups are calling on the government to adopt the recommendation of the United Nations Human Rights Council on absolute prohibition of torture during its universal periodic review held last week in Geneva.

“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,” Philippine nongovernmental organization Medical Action Group (MAG) said in a statement sent to BusinessWorld over the weekend.

The group said various countries 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.

The universal periodic review is a process that involves an examination of the human rights records of all 192 United Nations member states. It is considered an innovation of the UN Human Rights Council based on equal treatment for all countries.

“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 funded rehabilitation program for torture victims,” MAG said.

Max M. de Mesa, chairperson of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (Pahra), in a separate statement said that the “government with its security forces must determinedly address the continuing impunity of torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings, which are mostly perpetrated and perpetuated by disregarding the exercise of its obligation of command responsibility.” He also called on the government to put premium on documenting human rights abuses in Mindanao. —Amilbahar S. Mawallil

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