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Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading

Treatment or Punishment

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (the Torture Convention) was adopted by the General Assembly of the United
Nations on 10 December 1984. The Convention entered into force on 26 June 1987 after it
had been ratified by 20 States.

The Torture Convention was the result of many years work, initiated soon after the
adoption of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Torture
Declaration) by the General Assembly on 9 December 1975.

In fact, the Torture Declaration was intended to be the starting-point for further work
against torture. In a second resolution, also adopted on 9 December 1975, the General
Assembly requested the Commission on Human Rights to study the question of torture and
any necessary steps for ensuring the effective observance of the Torture Declaration. Two
years later, on 8 December 1977, the General Assembly specifically requested the
Commission on Human Rights to draw up a draft convention against torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in the light of the principles
embodied in the Torture Declaration.


A. Enactment of legislation in compliance with CAT

1. RA 9745
An Act Penalizing Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading
Treatment or Punishment and Prescribing Penalties Therefor

This law aims to:

(a) value the dignIty of every human person and guarantee full respect for human rights;
(b) To ensure that the human rights of all persons, including suspects, detainees and
prisoners are respected at all times; and that no person placed under investigation or held
in custody of any person in authority or, agent of a personm authority shall be subjected to
physical, psychological or mental harm, force, violence, threat or intimidation or any act
that impairs his/her free wi11 or in any manner demeans 6r degrades human dignity;
(c) To ensure that secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado or other similar forms
of detention, where torture may be carried out with impunity, are prohibited; and
(d) To fully adhere to the principles and standards on the absolute condemnation and
prohibition oftorlure as provided for in the 1987 Philippine Constitution; various
international instruments to which the Philippines is a State party such as, but not limited
to, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the
Rights ofthe Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDA W) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT); and all other relevant international human
rights instruments to which the Philippines is a signatory.

2. RA 10353
An Act Defining and Penalizing Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance

The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human
rights for which highest priority shall be given to the enactment of measures for the
enhancement of the right of all people to human dignity, the prohibition against secret
detention places, solitary confinement, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention,
the provision for penal and civil sanctions for such violations, and compensation and
rehabilitation for the victims and their families, particularly with respect to the use of
torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation or any other means which vitiate the free will of
persons abducted, arrested, detained, disappeared or otherwise removed from the effective
protection of the law.

Furthermore, the State adheres to the principles and standards on the absolute
condemnation of human rights violations set by the 1987 Philippine Constitution and
various international instruments such as, but not limited to, the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), to which the Philippines is a State


3. RA 9346
An Act Prohibiting The Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines

With the Supreme Court not declaring RA 7659 as unconstitutional, the death penalty remained in
force. However, even with the death penalty remaining in force, President Gloria Arroyo issued a
moratorium suspending or putting on hold the death penalty even when judgments imposing the
same had become final and executory. This explains the reasons why there was no execution carried
out for a number of years. On June 2006 the President signed RA 9346 abolishing the death penalty
in the Philippines. She said: the abolition of death penalty in the Philippines ends an era of
retributive justice and paves the way for restorative justice. She added that we have seen a strong
hand against the threat to the high moral imperatives dictated by God to walk away from capital


4. RA 7309
An Act Creating a Board of Claims under the Department Of Justice for Victims of
Unjust Imprisonment or Detention and Victims of Violent Crimes, and for Other

One of the more vexing problems in the area of justice and human rights is the
implementation of the constitutional provision against the deprivation of life, liberty and
property without due process of law. Persons have been accused and imprisoned for crimes
they did not commit, only to be subsequently acquitted. Government and society have
become notably indifferent to victims of crimes and criminals. A judicial way of filing a claim
for compensation may be too long. Congress opted for an administrative procedure of filing
the claims by creating the Board of Claims.


5. Article 125 of Revised Penal Code

Article 125 of Revised Penal Code (RPC) provides that no custodial investigation shall be
conducted and the suspected person can only be legally detained by the investigating officer
for the allowable period called 12-18-36 hours.15 A person subject of an arrest without a
warrant must be delivered to the proper judicial authorities within 12-36 hours depending
on the gravity of the alleged offense.


6. RA 6981
An Act Providing for a Witness Protection Security and Benefit Program and
for other Purposes

Republic Act No. 6981, "The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act" seeks to
encourage a person who has witnessed or has knowledge of the commission of a crime to
testify before a court or quasi-judicial body, or before an investigating authority, by
protecting him from reprisals and from economic dislocation.


B. Government Agency for Implementation of CAT

1. Commission on Human Rights

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) primarily handles the investigations of human rights
violations. However, it has no power to resolve issues as stated in the Supreme Court
decision in 1991.

The CHR was created by the 1987 Constitution to prevent human rights abuses seen during
the dictatorship-ousted strongman Ferdinand Marcos, primarily handles the investigations
of human rights violations. It was established in 1986 during the administration of
President Corazon Aquino, CHR is an independent body, which ensures the protection of
human rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

Aside from investigations, it also provides assistance and legal measures for the protection
of human rights guided by Section 18 Article XIII of the Philippine Constitution.

2. Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC)

Created through Administrative Order (AO) No. 16324, it expanded the committees
membership and functions by assigning specific departments to monitor government
compliance with UN core treaties.


C. Programs/Measures taken to make the principles and provisions of CAT

widely known

1. Creation of several investigative groups to work on the issue of unexplained

killings, such as the Melo Commission, Task Force Usig, and Task Force 211.
In support of this, the PHRC, in partnership with the Department of Justice
(DOJ), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the
Supreme Court's Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), began the
consolidation of all human rights cases under a standard databank.

2. Engagement of the civil society groups through monthly Human Rights

Forums led by the PHRC, which is now on its fourth session. This resulted in
the creation of the Philippine OPCAT Working Group, Multi-sectoral
Partnership Against Disappearances, and the Multi-sectoral Partnership for
the Protection of Migrant Workers' Rights. The PHRC also requests
appropriate agencies to look into all human rights cases referred to it by civil
society groups from around the world.

3. Continuing human rights education and training for- law enforcement

organizations in partnership with the Commission on Human Rights of the
Philippines (CHRP). PHRC proposed an assessment of the impact of all on-
going human rights education and training activities of the CHRP. - lawyers
and paralegals by the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) to ensure the
effective prosecution of extrajudicial killings.

4. Support for appropriate legislative actions, such as the enhancement of the

CHRP Charter, the anti-torture law, anti-discrimination bill, and other related
legislative actions.

5. Setting up of institutionalized mechanisms, such as the Comprehensive

Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law
(CAHRIHL) to address human rights abuses reported in relation to the peace
process between the Philippine government and the local Communist
movement. This is in line with the policy of the Philippine government that
human rights shall remain a component of the peace process.

6. Issuance by the Supreme Court of a Circular in 16 October 2007 ordering

judges of the lower courts with pending cases involving unexplained killings
to submit information on the status of cases filed before them.

7. Promulgation by the Supreme Court of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo and
the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data immediately after the conduct of the first
Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances held in July

8. Issuance of Presidential directives to the DILG and Philippine National Police

(PNP) - to investigate the alleged vigilante killings in Davao as "the
Philippine government does not - nor will it ever - condone, abet, tolerate,
encourage or sponsor such acts" (13 May 2009) - to intensify efforts to stop
the violence against members of the media, and to bring the political killings
to zero (11 March 2009).

9. Strengthening of the Regional Units of the Task Force Usig to make them
more pro-active, efficient and capable, specifically through the creation of
"tracker teams" to go after suspected killers of media personalities and to
conduct manhunt operations on every at-large suspect.

10. Approval by the President of a two-million peso (roughly forty four thousand
US dollars) infusion to the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists to help
bereaved families seek justice for slain relatives through courts.

11. Issuance of order for all law enforcement agencies to closely coordinate with
media organizations.

12. Institution of a "reward system" through the publication of "Wanted"

posters/rouge galleries to hasten the arrest of suspects through the
cooperation of the community (such as for the neutralization of the twenty
one Most Wanted Persons relative to media killings and the nineteen Most
Wanted Persons involved in the killings of militants/ activists). The total
reward now stands at 21.645 million pesos (roughly 468,000 US dollars)

13. Abolition of the Inter-Agency Legal Assistance Group (Executive Order 808)
whose activities have been unfairly criticized as monitoring of groups
perceived as anti- government.