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UN body to visit PH, check for cases of torture

/ 09:32 AM May 21, 2015

A United Nations committee tasked to push for the prevention of torture around the world is set to visit the Philippines next week.

The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) will be in the country from May 25 to June 3 to visit prisons, police stations, military detention facilities, correctional/rehabilitation facilities and psychiatric hospitals to assess the treatment of detainees and patients.

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READ: Amnesty Int’l: Police torture rampant in PH | Impunity despite PH’s landmark Anti-Torture Act

The group will check how institutions are able to safeguard the detainees against torture and ill-treatment.

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“During the visit we will be exploring the steps the Philippines needs to take to effectively prevent torture and ill-treatment of people deprived of their liberty,” said Suzanne Jabbour, head of the SPT delegation, in a statement.

“We will also assist the authorities in the full implementation of their treaty obligations, including the establishment of a national independent body to monitor places of detention,” she added.

No monitoring body

The SPT will visit the Philippines as part of the UN’s monitoring efforts on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (Opcat), which has been ratified by 78 countries. Parties are required to set up a monitoring body, known as a National Preventive Mechanism, a year after ratifying the Opcat. The Philippines ratified the Opcat in 2012 but has yet to set up its own monitoring body.

The SPT will present its preliminary observations, which are supposed to be confidential, to the Philippine government at the end of the visit.

“For the SPT, the key to preventing torture and ill-treatment lies in building constructive relations with the State concerned, and its guiding principles are cooperation and confidentiality,” the statement said.

While the report is confidential, State parties can request that it be made public.

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According to human rights group Karapatan, from July 2010 to June 2015, there have been 110 cases of torture in the Philippines.

Last year, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) discovered a “torture chamber” in an unlisted police detention facility in Laguna.

READ: Wheel of torture: 10 cops relieved

The secret facility, which was under the province’s police intelligence branch, featured a “torture roulette” allegedly used by policemen to pick what kind of torture to use on the detainees.

Among the choices are “20 second Manny Pacman,” which meant being punched for 20 seconds, and “30 second paniki,” which resulted in the detainee being hung upside down for 30 seconds. IDL

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TAGS: Human Rights, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, torture, United Nations
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