[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

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[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.

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Courtesy of www.hatawtabloid.com

[In the Web] What Crime Deterrence?


By Benedicto Sanchez

Pro-Capital Punishment advocates claim that death penalty can “strike fear in the hearts of the criminals.” This is what the writer, Mr. Benedicto Sanchez is trying to refute by  using the Amnesty International Philippines myth-busters contesting the efficacy of the death penalty.

Here are some interesting conclusions he presented.
MYTH #1: The death penalty deters violent crime and makes society safer.

FACT: There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect. More than three decades after abolishing the death penalty, Canada’s murder rate remains over a third lower than it was in 1976.

A 35-year study compared murder rates between Hong Kong, where there is no death penalty, and Singapore, which has a similar size population and executed regularly. The death penalty had little impact on crime rates. In the Philippines, former Sen. Joker Arroyo, a long-time human rights lawyer and activist, asserted that the revival of the death penalty from 1993-2004 failed to reduce the number of violent crimes.

MYTH #2: The threat of execution is an effective strategy in preventing terrorist attacks.

FACT: The prospect of execution is unlikely to act as a deterrent to people prepared to kill and injure for the sake of a political or other ideology. Some officials responsible for counter-terrorism have repeatedly pointed out that those who are executed can be perceived as martyrs whose memory becomes a rallying point for their ideology or organizations.

Khalid al-Mihdhar, Nawaf al-Hazmi, hijacker-pilots Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah looked forward to becoming shaheeds (martyrs) to earn their perpetual 72 virgins – and they did in 9/11.

MYTH #3: All people who are executed have been proven guilty of serious crimes.

FACT: With the advance of forensic science, the USA finds itself exonerating 144 death row convicts recorded in the USA since 1973 showing that, regardless of how many legal safeguards are in place, no justice system is free from error. As long as human justice remains fallible, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated.

Crime Deterrence? We have to think again. He suggested that it is better for the PNP focus on crime detection to prove that crimes do exact payment of long stretches of jail time.

Please read full article at http://world.einnews.com/article/227573832/U8fxemA3OlQCKYfj?continued=1.

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Courtesy of www.amnesty.org

[Reflection] Pagpupugay at Pasasalamat sa mga Bayani at Martir ng Batas Militar: A Review


Heroes are made not born.

They are those who let no obstacle prevent them from pursuing the values they have chosen. Some simply happened to find themselves at a crossroads, confronted with the turbulent events of their time but chose to take a path less traveled and even offering their own lives.

One needs not to be extraordinary to do heroic deed. Any Juan dela Cruz, Maria or Jose – workers, farmers, fisherfolks, students, professionals, church people, informal settlers or street hawkers can make a big difference.

But there are many of them who remain anonymous until now. They are the NAMELESS —whose deeds are not known to many. Remembering them may not be enough. But reliving their legacies in us is one way to honor them.

And this is what the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines together with the NAMELESS HEROES AND MARTYRS, INC. and the DAKILA Collectives admirably did when they paid tribute to the HEROES and MARTYRS of MARTIAL LAW on September 30, 2014 at the Aldaba Recital Hall, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

The event brought together Martial Law heroes and the new generation of human rights defenders to commemorate the 42nd Anniversary of the Declaration of Martial Law through a matinee of songs, dances and theatrical play under the brilliant direction of UP Prof. Apolonio Chua.

The songs of protest like Batingaw, Sangandaan, Patak ng Ulan at Huling Awit were once again resonated on the stage by Color It Red vocalist Cooky Chua and the progressive labour theater group, Teatro Pabrika to awaken in the audience the Filipino spirit of patriotism.

May Tibak At May Tibak and Buhay Na Inalay Sa Bayan from LEAN: The Musical which run deep into our Filipino consciousness and stir intense emotions of sensitivities were given new life through the creative dance performances of the Collective Arts of Students and Thespians (CAST) from University of Makati by efficaciously translating the sufferings and struggle of the Filipino people under Martial law into series of movement and dramatic expression.

But what makes the event different from the previous commemorations is that it set the stage for the Reader’s theatre where excerpts from selected literatures were read by character roles with no needs for costumes and props for the audience to relive the social upheavals of that time that gave rise to popular discontent and resistance.

Tutubi, Tutubi ‘Wag Kang Magpahuli sa Mamang Salbahe’ (Dragonfly, Dragonfly, Don’t Allow Yourself to Get Caught by a Bad Guy) by Palanca awardee Jun Cruz Reyes, gives a satirical account of the irrationality of the power structure and how a high school student’s curiosity has turned into a conviction of joining the underground movement.

The “Written to Myself During a Fit of Depression” by former political prisoner, Doris Baffrey, a letter she wrote for herself relating her traumatic experiences while languishing in jail for almost five years which left a thick scar or welt on her very existence in the same way that many survivors of martial-law were plagued by intense, recurring nightmares. Ms. Baffrey was implicated in the PICC bombing during the American Society of Travel Agents Convention in 1980.

A more vivid account of torture was best described in the poem, ‘TORTYUR- Sa mga Kuko ng Karimlan’ written by another Palanca awardee and political activist, Levy Balgos dela Cruz which shows how torture is being used as a form of punishment until it breaks the person’s will to live.

The agony of a wife who has to pretend as a cousin of her husband in order to claim his remains after he was summarily executed by the military is given a human face and heart in the play, ‘Buwan at Baril’ by Chris Millado.

The family memoir, ‘Subversive Lives’ by the Quimpos reminds us of the personal costs at best illuminates an on-going struggle mediated by familial experiences and the sacrifices of those who joined the movement.

We owe it to those who stood and fought against the dictator in order for freedom and democracy to live. Their sacrifices and love for country are the reasons why the “selfie” generation today have the freedom to click and post whatever they want in social media. But lest we forget that the responsibility to make the country freer, humane and just now rests on our shoulders.

Salute to the Unsung Heroes of Martial Law!
Kudos to the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines!
Never Again to Martial Law!

Pagpupugay sa mga Bayani ng Martial Law

[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