For human rights advocates, rehabilitation of torture victims is understood as both a right of the victims and a state obligation. It should play an important role in the broader agenda of achieving justice and respect for human rights.
It must be viewed holistically as it goes beyond physical and psychological care and extend to other types of services (legal, social and economic services, e.g. education, employment, housing, etc.), that enable the victims to restore life with dignity and return to life of normalcy.
However, rehabilitation is more than just responding to victims’ basic needs. It must respond to the real impact of violations in victims’ lives and at the same time, it should be given as sincere efforts on the part of the government to acknowledge the human rights violations and to provide concrete measure of justice to those whore rights have been violated.
The participation of the victims and their families in the designing and effective implementation of rehabilitation programs and services is therefore vital. This will ensure that torture rehabilitation is tailored to each victim’s needs and their particular situation while considering the effects of torture and other violations on families, communities and larger society.
Rehabilitation programs should promote individual, family and social healing, recovery and reintegration. This may include restoring cultural practices, traditions and exercising political beliefs without fear. Working only at the individual level is not enough. There is a need to consider rehabilitation beyond the individual level and to look at social dimension of rehabilitation.
In the Philippines, the passage of the RA 9745 or Anti-Torture Law on 2009 and the promulgation of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program in March 2014, did not make any significant improvement in the human rights situation.
Not only for the fact the torture continues unabated, there is still a lack of adequate rehabilitation measures for torture survivors and their families. While institutional efforts are being undertaken to give flesh and blood to this normative framework, the reality remains that rehabilitation services are not yet readily available for torture victims/survivors in many countries including the Philippines.until now, relevant government agencies still have no clear operational procedure and have no budget line for its implementation.
The participation of victims and their families in addressing the issue of rehabilitation, designing rehabilitation measures and seeing these programs are implemented can contribute powerfully to its success or failure.Nevertheless, there is a need to create enabling conditions for victims’ participation that would allow victims to feel that they are valued and recognized as rights-holders.
So in order to have a common understanding of the concept of rehabilitation not only as an inherent right emerging from human rights violations but also to identify its different forms and the necessary operational mechanisms for its provisions, the victims should be at its center.