April 22, 2007
It is a welcome event that after the Philippines have undergone scrutiny on its human rights performance under the Universal Periodic Review process of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC), the executive has finally transmitted to the House of Senate today, priority measure to accede to the Optional Protocol on the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). This development, if successful, signals the most awaited protective mechanisms for the protection of person from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
By acceding to this core International Treaty, the Philippine government promises to allow regular visitation of an independent international and national bodies to places of detention where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as provided for in Article 1 of the said optional protocol. Also, the government is obligated to set up, designate or maintain at the domestic level one or several visiting bodies for the prevention of torture cases referred as the national preventive mechanism under Article 3 of the treaty. It is hoped that these mechanisms are established in the spirit of transparency, independence and with participation of the civil society movements for human rights.
While the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) welcomes the said initiative, it looks forward to the sincere observance of the Government to the said Optional Protocol in the country. We wish that this will not undergo the same fate like other International instruments that are paid lip-service by administrations both past and present.
Furthermore we are asking the government, to both Houses of Congress to fasttrack the passage of the Anti Torture Law in our country as a domestic measure consistent to the Optional Protocol on Torture to remedy cases of human rights violations, degrading and inhuman treatment or punishment.