[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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[Video] Death Penalty: Facts and Figures of 2013


By Amnesty International

The death penalty is a premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. It violates the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The human rights organizations around the world have been opposing the use of death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to judicially execute anyone. It is not only legally and morally wrong, it is practically unacceptable as well.

  • It is not necessary for an effective system of criminal justice. The deficiencies in due process is irreparable.
  • There is nothing that can justify the taking of any life. Its sever social costs and values disintegration outweigh against its supposed social benefits.
  • The financial burdens it puts on the state are far heavier than those of a system that includes only life imprisonment without parole.

Death to Death Penalty! Watch the video at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VZjD96C9uk

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[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] When money is not enough


A country in a democratic transition must come to terms with its past in order to move forward.

Addressing past atrocities and injustices is considered a crucial part of social healing and national reconciliation. Acknowledging the misdeeds especially human rights violations is one significant step towards guaranteeing the right of the victims for effective remedies.

However, remedial measures take various forms of reparation. One way is through compensation. This serves both as an acknowledgment of the human rights violations and the sanctioning of the state for allowing or for directly committing such violations.

After more than four decades, the Philippine government through the passage of Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 finally recognizes “the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims” of human rights violations during martial law and “restore the victims’ honor and dignity.”

Compensation provides not only material but also symbolic political and social benefits. First, it helps bring immediate economic relief to victims and their families and allow them to meet the basic survival needs. Secondly, the monetary compensation may serve as a deterrent for future abuses by imposing financial sanctions for committing such violations.

Although harms or injuries resulting from human rights violations are often irreparable but compensation can help restore the victims’ dignity by knowing that their rights are recognized and the violations committed against them are being atoned.

But lest we forget that reparations are not primarily about money, but to publicly acknowledge the wrongdoings and to guarantee its non-repetition. It is a necessary component of the healing process as it signifies a concrete step on the part of the state to make amends and take full responsibility for the historical tragedies like Martial Law.

Compensation must therefore serve to continuously promote and protect human rights. For money can’t buy justice but it can help the victim to endlessly pursue it.

#neveragaintomartiallaw

irr of ra 10368

[Personal Note] I am back


To my valued readers,

Have you ever experienced being crazy passionate about writing and then, seemingly all of the sudden, you lost interest?

It became less exciting, less fun, less of something you wanted to do but more of something you want to express.

I am very sorry for more than two years of a slump.
Even I, myself was wondering what happened.

But I have finally bounced back and clawed my way out.
The interest to write my opinion is once again become an obsession I can’t resist.

I am back.
And still imbued with the spirit of carpe diem…
to seize the moment…

be critical…

be involved…

be heard…

 

carpe diem

[Reflection] Torture Rehabilitation should be victim-centered


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.

 

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[Video] What Human Rights mean to me


 

Nelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can learn to love.”

Human rights violations know no borders. From child soldiers in the Congo, ethnic cleansing in Darfur, to the rise in human trafficking right here in the US, it is easy to see that the whole world needs to change.

By knowing all 30 Articles of the UDHR we can be equipped with the knowledge to fight against any injustice anywhere in the world. On this 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration, with all the turmoil that currently exists in the world, it has become more important than ever for people to know their rights, to pass them onto others, and to defend them relentlessly.

The solution to global issues such as poverty, famine, war and political unrest is encompassed by the UDHR, and human rights education is the first step in resolving these issues at a grassroots level.

I hope to see the day when human rights education becomes a mandatory part of every middle school curriculum on every continent across the world, so that every man, woman and child knows and can defend their God-given rights.

– Amnesty International, USA