Press Release: Civil Society Groups and Government Contingent to Run Against Torture
A network of 30 independent civil society organizations and representatives from government agencies and security forces will hold a run to affirm the state’s policy to prohibit torture and penalize perpetrators on June 25, 2016. The activity will take place in time for the worldwide observance of the International Day in Support for Victims of Torture.
Now on its 10th year, the Basta! Run Against Torture carries the theme “Not One More Victim: End Torture Now!”. Participants will gather in front of the office of the Commission on Human Rights and will hold a solidarity run at 6:30 in the morning of June 25, 2016. It will be followed by a program at the Quezon City Memorial Circle where the run will end.
The United against Torture Coalition (UATC) which will spearhead the BRAT X said that the event seeks to, among others, enjoin the incoming government under President Duterte to make a clear public statement rejecting torture and ill treatment and that perpetrators will be held accountable if they step out of line in their drive to impose law and order in society.
Josephine Lascano, Executive Director of Balay Rehabilitation Center and a convener of the UATC Secretariat, said that only one perpetrator – a police corporal - has been convicted considering the rising number of torture cases compiled by the Commission on Human Rights and civil society organizations six years after torture was declared a criminal offense.
‘We believe that the public anxiety over the apparent climate of violence and impunity that punctuates the government’s peace and order campaign will be alleviated if President Duterte himself would remind authorities to refrain from resorting to torture and extra-legal executions.” Lascano said.
She noted that ranking law enforcement and military officers have not been prosecuted despite warrants issued by the court for their arrest. This appears to indicate that the accountability of state authorities and their agents are hardly observed, according to Lascano.
“We have recorded more than 40 cases where authorities have used excessive and inappropriate violence and acts of cruelty in the first five months of this year alone,” Lascano said.
“We are alarmed at reports that the overwhelming majority of reported torture cases take place in police stations or are committed in the context of the government’s drive against criminality and terrorism,” she added.
The UATC has also noted of reports of the existence of secret detention places where persons have been routinely tortured, including children. It cited as example the infamous “wheel of torture” case in Laguna where police officers were found to be routinely torturing detainees in an unofficial and undeclared place of detention. No police officer implicated in that incident has been charged criminally under the Anti-Torture Act.
Aside from the UATC, the activity will be participated in by torture survivors, the Commission on Human Rights, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Department of Interior and Local Government as well as other government agencies and communities.