Senate probe sought on police abuse

SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel III on Friday sought to conduct an inquiry on the allegedly increasing number of cases of torture and ill-treatment during police investigations.

The proposed inquiry stems from the Amnesty International (AI) report that majority of torture cases in the country involve police officers.

Detainees on police custody reportedly experience variety of methods of torture like electric shocks; systematic beats, punches, and kicks; wooden batons or metal bars strike; cigarette burn; near-asphyxiation with plastic bags; stripped naked and genitalia tied to a string and being pulled; and death threat.

Pimentel said inhuman punishment is still being performed in the country despite the implementation of the Anti-Torture Act

The passage of the law in 2009 recognized torture as a separate crime and provided a number of important guarantees to aid torture survivors seeking redress.

"While torture is now penalized as a crime under ATA, the reality is that torture and ill-treatment remain common in many police stations in the country," said Pimentel, chairman of the Senate justice committee.

For 2013 alone, the Commission on Human Rights recorded 75 cases of alleged torture, the highest number of incidents reported in any year so far.

In 60 of these cases, police officers were implicated as perpetrators.

In 2014, 22 out of 28 torture cases recorded from January to July involved police officials.

AI researchers found out that most victims of torture are from disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds.

Most at risk of being tortured after arrest include women, suspected juvenile offenders, repeat offenders, and criminal suspects whose alleged crimes have personally affected police officers.

"It must be noted that our country is a state party to various international agreements on the protection of a detainee's rights, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT)," Pimentel said.

Obligations under the ICCPR and UNCAT include taking a wide range of measures relevant to the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

Citing Article 3, Section 1 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Pimentel said no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. (Sunnex)


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