Making torture prevention in the Philippines a reality

There are laws abolishing torture. Laws, both international and domestic, that dictate that torture is a crime, a human rights violation, with no extenuating circumstances; that states are obligating to investigate and prosecute these crimes.

This is true in many countries in the world, including the Philippines, where the Medical Action Group (MAG) , an IRCT member, is based. But how do you take a policy and make it good practice?

As seen in the video above, taking that step means targeting the prosecutors and investigators themselves.

“This is to emphasize the close collaboration between the legal and police professions,” says Edeliza P. Hernandez, Executive Director of MAG. “However, investigators and prosecutors most often have limited knowledge and understanding of and insight into each other’s work and may even view each other with skepticism. This training of investigators and prosecutors on investigation and documentation of torture cases is crucial process in providing them common ground and framework to work on the application of international standards for effective investigation and successful prosecution of torture cases in the country.”

Investigations into crimes of torture are challenging, admits PCSupt. Nestor M. Fajura, Head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Human Rights Affairs Office, in the video. There are difficulties in the officers’ abilities and skills to investigate such crimes and difficulties in linking the crimes to a specific perpetrator.

But as this project shows, skills and knowledge of effective investigation can be improved.

Investigators from the PNP and other criminal justice organisations learned about improved medical evidence and documentation of torture, the legal framework for which torture is criminalized in the domestic law and confronting the challenges that arise when police officers must investigate their peers.

But using forensic documentation of torture and fully investigating these crimes, says forensic expert Dr Benito Molino, is a step toward reducing impunity, toward reducing torture and one day to eradicating it fully.

Watch the video here from MAG to see this project in action.

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