World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Problems in enforcing Anti-Torture and Cybercrime Laws

Problems in enforcing Anti-Torture and Cybercrime Laws

On January 15, the Supreme Court of the Philippines (SC) heard oral arguments questioning the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and its conformity to international norms and standards. The Cybercrime Prevention Act is one of the many unprecedented pieces of legislation in the Philippines in recent years. The Cybercrime Law is expected to protect private individuals from cyber bullying, protect women and children from being sexually trafficked online, and so on. Due to questions raise as to its constitutionality, the SC issued an order suspending its implementation.

Apart from the Cybercrime Law, the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, the first domestic law criminalizing torture in Southeast Asia and the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012, the first law criminalizing enforced disappearance in Asia are some examples of landmark human rights legislation. The question as to the Cybercrime Law, however, is whether part of its provisions, notably punishments for libel, is in line with the Constitution and international human rights standards, as we have stated earlier. The Cybercrime Law attracted protest as it borders on the risk of suppressing freedom of expression in the process of protecting rights of individuals.

The AHRC has observed that in numerous cases, such as the prosecution of torture case, the interpretations of the law are problematic when the prevention and punishment of crimes are involved. In torture cases, the police, public attorneys, prosecutors and judges, become the obstacles in the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Law. Thus, despite the clarity of the law on torture--since there was no challenge raised of its constitutionality in court--this did not prevent inconsistencies and subjective interpretations of the law preventing prosecution of the crime.

For example, in the torture case of five men in San Fernando City in 3 August 2010, the prosecutor rejected their complaint of torture for reasons that they could not have possibly identified the perpetrators because they were blindfolded. The prosecutor exonerated the policemen from torture because the five victims have failed to "positively identify" their torturers. The prosecutor also disregarded the compelling medical and forensic evidence that they were tortured and that they were in police custody on the day on which they claimed to have been tortured.

In another case, a public attorney investigating the case of victim John Paul Nerio, a boy whom policemen tortured in December 11, 2010 in Kidapawan City, did not prosecute the policemen for torture but for child abuse. He argued that Nerio's complaint does not constitute a violation because it is not political in nature. Nerio is an ordinary teenager with no involvement in political activities. The public attorney disregarded the information that policemen have, in fact, extracted a confession from him when they arrested, detained and assaulted him in their custody. The AHRC argued otherwise and sent numerous appeals to the prosecution.

To have the clarity on the meaning and interpretation of the law is very important. But the challenge is the enforcement of the law and how the enforcers of the law--the police, the prosecutors and court judges--interpret the law in their daily work. If freedom from torture as an absolute right could hardly be adequately implemented despite its clarity, it raises questions as to whether the government's institutions could protect any other rights. None of those charged and prosecuted for torture were punished. This will certainly be the challenge in the implementation of the Cybercrime Law.

There is the assumption that the codification of rights in the Constitution and Statutes itself serves as protection. However, in our experience, while they offer some assurance there is no guaranty of the protection of rights. Most of these right remains on paper.

The case of the Abadilla Five is an example to this. In a 13-page legal critique we exposed that local courts disregarded Constitutional and Statutory rights. The court justified the breach in fundamental rights that protect individuals from arbitrary arrest and detention and torture by invoking jurisprudence contradictory to the Constitution. Also, the SC's decision upholding the conviction of the Abadilla Five in this case give rise to questions on consistency and legal certainty in the application of the jurisprudence by the court in adjudication of cases, notably in evaluating forensic evidence and credibility of the witness in court.

The AHRC is of the opinion that the effective and adequate implementation of the law does not rely purely on the clarity of its meaning but how the enforcers of the law--the lawyers, the police, the prosecutors and judges--interpret the substantive meaning of the law and what the law ought to be on protection of rights.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UNHCR: More Than 300 Die In Boat Tragedies On Mediterranean

The past few days have been the deadliest this year for people making irregular crossings on the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe More>>

UN: Egyptian Crossing Used To Bring Food Aid To Gaza
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) successfully crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip today, carrying enough food to feed around 150,000 people for five days More>>

ALSO:

Extended Cease Fire: Gaza Celebrates!!!!

Images and video from Gaza.Scoop - Julie Webb Pullman in Gaza. Gazans took to the streets tonight to celebrate their victory in achieving the end of hostilities and the lifting of the illegal seven-year siege. Whatever tomorrow may bring, tonight was a time to rejoice! More>>

ALSO:


Iraq: Killing Of Dozens Of Sunni Worshippers In Eastern Iraq

22 August 2014 – Condemning in the strongest terms the reported attack on a mosque in eastern Iraq, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on all Iraqi authorities to ensure that the attack is properly investigated and its perpetrators held to account. More>>

ALSO:

  • UN Watch - UN Urgent Session on Iraq, Demands "Concrete Outcomes"
  • UNICEF: Honours Life, Tireless Work Of Richard Attenborough

    Film producer and director Sir Richard Attenborough was introduced as the new Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on 28 October 1987. UN Photo/Milton Grant More>>

    UN: Flight Restrictions Hamper Ability To Battle Ebola

    UNICEF and partners visit a crowded market in Conakry, Guinea, to explain to vendors how they can protect themselves and their families from Ebola. Photo: UNICEF Guinea More>>

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
    World
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news