[Literary] A Plea to A Torturer: A Poem


I am not a toy,
You can enjoy
Stripping me naked
helpless and scared…

I am not a toy,
You can enjoy
treating me as a play thing.
as if I have no feeling…

I am not a toy
You can enjoy
Putting a gun on my head
And make me filled with dread…

I am not a toy
You can enjoy
Asking me a million times
To confess for uncommitted crime…

I am not a toy
You can enjoy
Laughing at me
As I beg for mercy…

I am not a toy
You can enjoy
Putting my head into a pale of water
Or electrocute me to make me whimper…

I am not a toy
You can enjoy
Punching me in the face
And tease me as I grimace…

I am not a toy
You can enjoy
Listening to my scream
As your cigarette burns my skin…

I am not a toy,
You can enjoy
Locking me up in a dark, cold room
To make me feel how to lie in a tomb.

I am not a toy
You can enjoy
Imposing your authority over me
And seeing how I endure your cruelty…

I am not a toy
You can enjoy
Because I am human being too
Just like everyone including you…

Stop torture

Photo courtesy of www.amnesty.org.uk

[Document] Presentation on the UN Convention Against Torture


By Medical Action Group

Torture is considered a crime under the international human rights law. It is prohibited everywhere, at all times, and no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be used to justify it. However, the practice of torture continues unabated throughout the world including the Philippines.

Torture means “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

It most often takes place in places of detention – where people deprived of liberty are especially vulnerable to mistreatment. Women in detention are usually subjected to gender-based violence. While there are those who are subjected to acts of torture on the grounds of their sexual orientation, ethnic origins, religious and political beliefs, age or disabilities.

Almost anyone can be at risk of torture – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or political beliefs.

No one is safe.

Yet, no one is punished for committing torture.

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Ms. Edeliza P. Hernandez, MAG Executive Director discusses the UN Convention Against Torture before the participants of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Training Workshop on International Affairs and Policies held on October 22-24, 2014 at Torre Venezia Hotel in Timog Avenue, Quezon City.

You may download the presentation here.

UN CAT Presentation

[Document] Position Paper of the United Against Torture Coalition on the National Preventive Mechanism


By Atty. Ricardo Sunga III

Within one year from ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Philippines is obligated to establish a national preventive mechanism. It is one or several visiting bodies, set up, designated or maintained, at the domestic level, for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

There is range of possible forms that the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) can take. This paper explores them. Section I of this paper considers the standards that the NPM must observe. Section II critically examines the various possible forms of the NPM through the lens of these standards.

This paper was written by Atty. Ricardo A. Sunga III for the United Against Torture Coalition in 2012.

Ricardo Sunga III, LLB (University of the Philippines) and LLM (University of New South Wales), is a member of the Philippine Bar. He has been a professorial lecturer at the University of the Philippines College of Law, and is currently a Law Reform Specialist of the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights. He is also the Regional Coordinator for the National Capital Region of the Free Legal Assistance Group, an organization of human rights lawyers.

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Photo File: Courtesy of www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk

You can download the UATC Position Paper here.

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[Document] Bangsamoro Basic Law


The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has made public the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which President Benigno Aquino III personally submitted to Philippine Congress.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law will abolishes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and will establish the new Bangsamoro political identity in its place. The law is based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014.

You can download the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law here.

BBL HB04994

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Courtesy of www.hatawtabloid.com

[Reflection] Death Penalty is no laughing matter


Once a comedian, always a COMEDIAN.

Sen. Tito Sotto III once again was trying to be funny even he is not.

The good senator, who became the enemy number 1 of women’s group for taking a pro-life stance against the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Law, is now pushing for the revival of the death penalty.

If before, he wanted to silence the netizens by inserting the libel provision in the highly contentious Anti- Cyber Crime Law, he now wants to silence suspected criminals for good.

In his privilege speech as Acting Senate Minority Leader last Tuesday, Sen. Sotto made a renewed call to the government to revive the death penalty in order to end illegal drug abuse. This was his mercurial response over the killing of actress Cherry Pie Picache’s mother which he believed is a wicked work of those who are no doubt under the influence of drugs.

In fact, he already filed a bill early this year to its effect which is now pending before the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws as well as the Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In order to make a point, he made use of the country’s tourism slogan as reference to describe the criminal situation in the country by mockingly saying that “Criminals have more fun in the Philippines.”

However, what Sen. Sotto didn’t seem to know or simply refuse to accept is that the devil is in the details.

The imposition of capital punishment is not a quick fix solution to the problem of the rising criminality. To legally kill a person as the ultimate form of punishment for killing someone is simply to continue the cycle of violence. Killing even if legal or judicial, is no justice at all.

In the country like the Philippines where the criminal justice system is far from ideal, the possibility that a wrongly convicted person could be put to death for a crime he did not commit is too high to risk. It is irreparable.

Even international criminal experts see no clear deterrent effect of death penalty against criminality and believe that the real keys in fighting crime are in the quality of law enforcement and the active cooperation of the community to the police, rather than making the penalty harsher.

What makes Sen. Sotto even funnier is his ignorance with the fact that when the Philippines abolished the death penalty in 1987 and 2006, it gained international recognition as the only country in Asia to do so and has become the champion of human rights in the region.

We do not live anymore in the days of Hammurabi where “eye for an eye” is a golden rule.

The death penalty is a senseless, barbaric form of state-aided revenge which has no place in a civilized society.

So why do we have to be uncivilized again, Mr. Senator? And that is no laughing matter.

Tito-Sotto

Courtesy of all-about-news.com

[Document] Right to Rehabilitation


This Discussion Paper was made and published by REDRESS in 2009 with the purpose of clarifying the reasons why rehabilitation, despite beingexpressly incorporated in different international instruments such as CAT, the ICPPED and the Rome Statute, remains an elusive form of reparation. Certainly, and as is the case with many other rights/obligations under international law, problems of implementation and enforceability are partly the result of lack of political will of states.

                                                                                                                                                              – REDRESS

REDRESS is an international nongovernmental organization committed to obtaining justice for torture survivors. The objectives and working methods they used focus on assisting survivors to pursue and secure legal remedies and developing the means to ensure compliance with international standards, and in particular their right to reparation. REDRESS consider IT fundamental to advance the understanding of the meaning of rehabilitation given that it is a crucial reparation measure for torture survivors and their next of kin.

For more info, visit REDRESS website: http://www.redress.org/

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The Right to Rehabilitation

[In the Web] PNoy defends PH human rights situation


President Benigno Aquino III defended the Philippine government’s efforts to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines in an event that was organized by the Egmont Institute, a think-tank group based in Belgium held in Val Deuchess.

The Philippines was the focus of international attention with the spate of killings, disappearances and torture during the Arroyo administration

President Aquino cited the arrest of retired major general Jovito Palparan for his alleged involvement in the forced disappearance of two UP students in 2007 as a proof of his government’s serious efforts to put behind bars those accountable for human rights violations.

“One of the foremost human rights violators or accused, alleged human rights violators, in the person of General Palparan, who used to be a member of our Armed Forces, has recently been arrested and presently incarcerated and undergoing trial,” he said.

He reiterated his government’s commitment to human rights, rule of law and democracy.

However, he pointed out that justice for victims of human rights violations can’t be achieved without reforming the criminal justice system.

“Now, in our system also, the judicial branch is not directly under my office. We operate on three separate branches and, for instance, the so-called Maguindanao massacre is also a source of frustration for the executive department. There are 58 counts of homicide and murder on that particular case and over a hundred accused and we are still in the process of arresting some of the others accused,” he added.

President Aquino is in his four-nation European trip to meet investors from Europe and the US and to promote the Philippines not only as a tourist destination but also as an investment haven, bragging his administration’s gains in putting the economy in the right track.

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Courtesy of rappler.com