On November 12th, 2009, the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, promulgated a law that incriminates acts of torture. The anti-terror law (Republic Act 9745 or Anti-Torture Act of 2009) is designed to fill the gaps in national law by giving a definition of this crime and by using scales of sentences according to the seriousness of the crime committed.
In April 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture denounced the “frequent use” of torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines. Those most at risk of torture are suspects detained in police stations. These horrific techniques are used to extract information and force confessions that are used in legal proceedings. Investigations led by Philippines human rights organizations show that state officers are mainly responsible for these acts of torture.
The Committee Against Torture had asked the Philippines government to take immediate steps to prevent torture and ill-treatment in the entire country. 23 years after the ratification of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the adoption of this law is an important progress. But now the authorities must effectively enforce this law.
On the occasion of Good Friday, ACAT Switzerland and Philippines are launching a petition-signing campaign. This petition has won the support of many members of the ACAT network.