Paris – Manila, 19th May 2009
As part of the review of the second periodic report on the Philippines looking at the implementation of the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment, the Committee against Torture has adopted a number of recommendations. The majority of them reflect the report by FIACAT (International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) and ACAT-Philippines (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture).
The Committee is deeply concerned about the numerous, ongoing, credible and consistent allegations, corroborated by a number of Filipino and international sources, of routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody, especially to extract confessions or information to be used in criminal proceedings. Furthermore, despite the enactment of the Law on the Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation (RA 7438), there are insufficient legal safeguards for detainees in practice.
As a matter of urgency, the Committee asks the Philippines to take immediate steps to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment throughout the country and to announce a policy of total elimination in respect of any ill-treatment or torture by State officials.
As part of this, the Philippines should implement effective measures promptly to ensure that all detainees are afforded, in practice, all fundamental legal safeguards from the very outset of their detention. These include, in particular, the right to have access to a lawyer and an independent medical examination, to notify a relative, and to be informed of their rights at the time of detention, including about the charges laid against them, as well as to appear before a judge within a time limit in accordance with international standards.
The Committee has given the Filipino authorities one year to improve this situation; FIACAT and ACAT Philippines will monitor closely this issue.
The Committee reiterates its grave concerns over the climate of impunity for perpetrators of acts of torture, including military, police and other State officials, particularly those holding senior positions that are alleged to have planned, ordered or perpetrated acts of torture.
The Committee has called upon Philippines to incorporate into criminal law the crime of torture and adopt a definition of torture that covers all of the elements contained in article 1 of the Convention.
FIACAT and ACAT Philippines trust that the Government will grasp the urgency of the situation and set about remedying the problems raised by the Committee experts forthwith. They will be keeping a close eye on further developments.
Nathalie Jeannin - firstname.lastname@example.org