Rights group: RP ‘nothing’ to report on prevention of torture

human rights group said the Philippine government might be able to submit to a United Nations body a “near-empty” report card on the progress of its compliance with an agreement against torture and other inhuman acts.

“We have seen that not much progress can be reported with regards to the compliance of the Philippine government with the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines said in a statement.

Also, it said the country has failed to comply with a set of recommendations the UN made on how to prevent torture and other cruel treatment in the country.

The group said that in its alternative report to the UN Committee Against Torture, it indicated the use of torture is widespread in the country.

“In most cases, all detainees are not afforded with legal safeguards from the very outset of their detention, and torture victims were the ones initially arrested without warrant, such as the case of Lenin Salas and four others who were arbitrarily arrested and tortured in San Fernando, Pampanga,” the group said in its report. 

Moreover, it said the recent cases of torture have hinted government’s reluctance to take all necessary steps to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment as specified in a set of UN recommendations. 

In May 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture transmitted its concluding observations on the periodic report the tPhilippine government submitted 17 years behind schedule, the UATC said.

“There were twenty-six (26) Recommendations to the Philippine government to take in order to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment throughout the country. Out of the 26 Recommendations, the Committee specifically identified a number of concerns in the Concluding Recommendations that are ‘serious, protective and can be achieved within one year’ which shall be implemented and reported back to the Committee after one year,” the group said.

The five principal concerns raised by the UN Committee Against Torture are: 

  • Torture and ill-treatment and insufficient safeguards during police detention of all detainees; 
  • Prompt, effective and impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment committed by law enforcement agencies
  • Effectiveness and independence of the Commission on Human Rights
  • Sexual violence in detention; and 
  • Children in detention.

The Philippines acceded to the UN Convention Against Torture on June 18, 1986. –Jerbert Briola/LBG, GMANews.TV