Int’l groups seek action on police torture in PH
Six bar associations from Europe and the Philippines have called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take immediate steps to address cases of torture in the country, citing how it “is still rife” and “appears to be routine during interrogations by police officers.”
In a statement sent through international rights group Amnesty International (AI) at the DOJ on Thursday, the bar associations of Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, France and the Philippines expressed alarm over persistent reports of torture attributed to law enforcers.
“We are calling on you to address this urgent issue by taking concrete action to ensure those responsible are brought to justice through prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigations into all reports of torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement officials leading to robust prosecutions in court,” they said.
They noted that “not a single perpetrator is known to have been convicted under the law,” and that “not one torture survivor in the Philippines has obtained justice” since the the 2009 Anti-Torture Act came into force.
Bar associations around the world, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), had played a key role in the formulation of such anti-torture policy, they cited.
“While a handful of police officers have been suspended or dismissed for torture and other ill-treatment in highly publicized cases, the vast majority of alleged perpetrators remain in active service. Individual police officers are therefore able to act as if they are above the law,” the lawyers’ groups noted.
“While administrative sanctions for police officers can and should be strengthened, we believe it is through prompt, impartial and effective investigations and robust prosecutions that full accountability and justice for torture victims can be achieved,” they said.
AI representatives hand-delivered the letter to Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III on Thursday morning. The rights group said the appeal was “well-received” by the DOJ, and that officials have “committed to look into the cases and issues raised.”
The letter was signed by AI Philippines Section Director Gemma Regina Corpus Cunanan and heads of the IBP, the German Bar Association, the Danish Bar and Law Society, the Belgian Bar Association, the Norwegian Bar Association, and the International Commission of the Paris Bar.
Laying down their appeal to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, a former chief of the Commission on Human Rights, the lawyers’ groups hoped that the Philippine government would ensure the prompt, independent and effective investigation of torture cases.
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