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Philippines In Dire Need Of National Torture Prevention Body, Say UN Experts

MANILA/GENEVA (14 December 2023) - The UN torture prevention experts today concluded their second visit to the Philippines by calling for the urgent designation of a national torture prevention body.

“The State Party should fast-track the adoption of the bills currently in the House of Representatives and the Senate, which will create the national monitoring body officially called National Preventive Mechanism, and we welcome the invitation to provide technical assistance in this regard,” said Victor Zaharia, head of the SPT delegation.

“The magnitude of issues observed by the delegation reaffirms the urgency of establishing an independent torture prevention mechanism with unrestricted access to all places of deprivation of liberty. This national mechanism, with adequate resources, will be a key partner in preventing torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines,” he added.

During its mission to the Philippines from 3 to 14 December, the SPT delegation visited over 40 places of deprivation of liberty across the country, including police stations, jails, prisons, drug rehabilitation centres, “Houses of Hope”- the reformation and education facilities for minors, immigration detention centres, military and drug enforcement agency facilities. It conducted confidential interviews with staff members and people held in those institutions and examined the treatment of individuals in different stages of the criminal or rehabilitation system.

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“We witnessed first-hand the State party’s initiatives to tackle issues such as overcrowding in detention facilities, but major challenges lie ahead. It is vital that safeguards in police custody are effectively guaranteed at all times, and that people deprived of their liberty are treated in accordance with the law and international standards,” Zaharia said.

During the visit, the delegation met with government officials, members of the House of Representatives, the judiciary, UN representatives, and civil society. It also held discussions with the National Commission on Human Rights.

At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to the Government of the Philippines, which will be followed by a confidential report containing detailed observations and recommendations to further prevent torture and ill-treatment of people deprived of their liberty.

The SPT delegation comprised Victor ZAHARIA (Moldova), head of the delegation, Satyabhooshun Gupt DOMAH (Mauritius), Aisha Shujune MUHAMMAD (Maldives), Martin ZINKLER (Germany). It was accompanied by two Human Rights Officers from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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