Presentation on theme: "“ Strengthening the prevention of torture in the Philippines through enhancing policy and collaboration between all relevant stakeholders”"— Presentation transcript:
“ Strengthening the prevention of torture in the Philippines through enhancing policy and collaboration between all relevant stakeholders”
Outline Context Relevance of the action Description of the action Conclusion
Context On November 10, 2009, the Anti-Torture Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 9745 is enacted, 23 years after the Philippines ratified ICCPR on February 28, 1986 and acceded to CAT on June 18, 1986. RA 9745 mandated the use of the Istanbul Protocol in investigation, documentation and reporting cases of alleged torture.
Context Following the obligations of States (e.g. Philippines) to fully investigate all torture allegations and to prosecute those responsible, the impunity for perpetrators of torture prevails and most of the torture survivors and their families do not receive institutional support they are entitled to.
Context Medical doctors and lawyers have a vital role to play in gathering information about torture, in documenting torture for legal purposes, in supporting and rehabilitating survivors, in preventing torture, and in prosecuting perpetrators.
Relevance of the action Obtaining evidence to support legal action is extremely challenging due to the fact the torture is a covert crime and perpetrated by state actors. Therefore, changes need to be made at a political level in order for the proper mechanisms to be in place for survivors of torture to even begin their pursuit of justice.
KEY MESSAGE The anti-torture law has shortcomings particularly in evaluating medical (or physical) evidences in proving allegation of torture by victim. Lack of specialized knowledge and skills of the investigating authorities on the law and the Istanbul Protocol create an environment where it is very easy to discard alleged cases of torture even before they reach the courts.
Description of the action The Medical Action Group (MAG) deemed it essential to strengthen and enhance knowledge on applicable legal and professional standards of medical doctors and lawyers which will improve institutional capacity in addressing the inherent difficulties in proving allegations of torture.
Description of the action Focused on three main issues: 1) Ensuring that torture survivors have an effective and enforceable right to a medical examination in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol. 2) Promoting engagement by other relevant stakeholders in medical documentation activities. 3) Increasing public visibility to medical aspects of torture including documentation and rehabilitation.
Description of the action 1. Ensuring that torture survivors have an effective and enforceable right to a medical examination in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol Using medical documentation gained to prevent torture by identifying torture patterns and perpetrators, to pursue legal action and engaging in advocacy to ensure protections for vulnerable populations and groups at risk.
Description of the action 2. Promoting engagement by other relevant stakeholders in medical documentation activities. This is mainly done in connection with capacity building activities, through public awareness raising and engagement with relevant local stakeholders from the academe, medical, legal and CSOs community to get them engaged in anti- torture activities. This initiative has resulted in an increased in the MAG membership.
Policy actions on regulations for the anti- torture law, which have had a number of results, including inclusion (work in progress) of the standards of the Istanbul Protocol for the medical documentation by the Department of Health (DOH), for investigation by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and for prosecution by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Description of the action 3. Increasing public visibility to medical aspects of torture including documentation and rehabilitation. With a high level of synergies and through collaboration between all relevant stakeholders, MAG increased its potential for lobbying at national and international levels. These actions have contributed to a multiplier effect where media and relevant stakeholders is now seeking MAG’s input more frequently in the fight against torture at the policy level.
KEY MESSAGE Effective investigation and documentation of torture requires collaboration and constructive dialogue between the involved stakeholders. Close collaboration between the health and legal professions is crucial in the effective investigation of alleged cases of torture.
KEY MESSAGE Advocacy activities from national and international pressures are crucial and should always build upon and support national activities through human rights movement and media.
Ways forward The need to bring cases of torture to court and prosecute torture perpetrators. Continuous and sustained capacity building activities for relevant stakeholders. Presence of dedicated medical and legal professionals. Effective and full implementation of laws and international obligations.
“Let’s build a world free of torture.” Thank you. Salamat. Acknowledgements: UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) Medical Action Group (MAG) International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)