May 06, 2009: OMCT and two Filipino NGOs call on the Committee Against Torture to help end torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines
Geneva, 6 May 2009
OMCT and two Filipino NGOs call on the Committee Against Torture to help end torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines by addressing their economic, social and cultural root causes.
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) together with KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights) and the Philippines Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) presented an alternative report to the 42nd session of the Committee Against Torture which made recommendations aimed at ending torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines by addressing their economic, social and cultural root causes.
OMCT and its national partners submitted to the Committee Against Torture (the Committee) a report describing how violations of economic, social and cultural rights lead to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the Philippines and making concrete recommendations to address those root causes. PAHRA and KARAPATAN were invited by OMCT to participate in the 42nd session of the Committee Against Torture to brief members of the Committee on the situation as regards torture and ill-treatment in the country, to share their analysis of the human rights situation, and to address the economic, social and cultural root causes of torture in the Philippines. The meeting with Committee members took place on Monday, 27 April 2009.
PAHRA, in its oral statement, pointed out that, in the Philippines, disrespect for economic, social and cultural rights is not only a root cause of torture but it entails a wide range of human rights violations, including violations of civil and political rights. "It is imperative - affirmed the representative of PAHRA - that the Government put a human rights clause in all foreign direct investment agreements [...] so that they are accompanied by a scrutiny of possible violations of economic, social and cultural rights, with special attention being paid to encouraging dialogue and inclusion of all groups in society to minimize, if not totally exclude, grounds for conflict and violence"
KARAPATAN focused on victims of human rights violations and on various forms of abuses that continue to be inflicted against ordinary citizens all over the country in the name of counter-insurgency activities. KARAPATAN indicated that their analysis is based on roughly 1,016 cases, documented since President Arroyo came to office in 2001. "Many people - clarified the representative of KARAPATAN - believe that torture has now become a covert national policy, together with extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other grievous rights violations resorted to by the State to quell the protests and dissent of the people."
Two torture survivors also met with members of the Committee and reported on the torture inflicted on them by the Philippines military. They also reported on the torture, sexual abuse, involuntary servitude, killings and enforced disappearances of other human rights activists that they learned about during their detention.
OMCT welcomes the fact the Committee showed deep concern at the situation in the Philippines and at the issues raised by national NGOs and by the testimonies of the two torture survivors. OMCT also welcomes the fact that the Committee addressed most of these concerns in its discussions with the representatives of the Government of the Philippines.
OMCT now calls on the Government of the Philippines to implement the recommendations contained in the alternative report and to take concrete steps to eradicate torture by addressing its economic, social and cultural root causes.