WITH little fanfare—though the issue deserved to be shouted about from the rooftops – the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have joined hands with non-governmental organization, the Medical Action Group (MAG) in a project funded by the British Embassy to improve the prosecution of torture cases and strengthen human rights and the rule of law in the Philippines.
Investigators from the PNP and prosecutors from the DOJ will undergo training that will boost their capacity to preserve and process physical and medical evidences that should have probative value in court.
Representing the British Embassy, First Secretary Steph Lysaght said made the salient point that “government and institutions are not mere bricks and mortar, they are about people. So the greatest responsibility and the greatest opportunity lies with them to make a positive difference. The fruits of these training sessions will help build greater trust in these institutions.”
“This training programme is unique in that it will not only provide investigators and prosecutors with the tools to improve how they process and present medical evidence, it will help strengthen collaboration between the PNP, the DOJ and civil society. This is an example of the openness and ongoing improvement that is necessary for delivering positive results,” he added.
For his part DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan strongly underlined the Philippine Government’s view that torture is wrong, and clearly there is no place for torture in this country or anywhere else in the world.
“It is imperative to strengthen the investigative capability of the PNP, who must be one step ahead in techniques, strategies and skills in their work particularly in the investigation of alleged human rights violations like cases of torture,” Supt. Nestor Fajura, head of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office added.
Explaining her organization’s involvement, Erlinda Senturias, M.D., chairperson of MAG said: “This is to emphasise the close collaboration between the legal and police professions. However, investigators and prosecutors must often have limited knowledge and understanding of and insight into each other’s work and may even view each other with skepticism.
“This training, for the first time ever, of investigators and prosecutors is crucial process in providing them common ground and framework to work on the application of international standards for effective investigation and successful prosecution of torture cases in the country.”
The training started last week in Manila with the first batch of 45 investigators and prosecutors. Other training sessions will be conducted in Baguio, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Davao. In addition, selected graduates will receive further training as trainers for investigators and prosecutors in other parts of the country.
For UK visa applicants
THE British Embassy has requested we pass on the information that United Kingdom visa applicants in the Philippines are now required to pay for their visa online in US Dollars as part of the online application process using either a Visacard or Mastercard.
The integration of payment into the online system will provide a more streamlined visa application process for customers and is part of a wider move to allow almost all of its customers to apply and pay for their visas online by 2013/14.
Once customers have applied and paid for their visa online they will need to visit the visa application centre to submit their documents and provide their biometrics (fingerprints and digital photograph). Appointments to attend the visa application centre should be booked online when completing the online application form.
For further information on how to apply for a visa in the Philippines, visit the UK Border Agency in the Philippines website at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/countries/philippines/