02 Nov 2016
Fighting systemic impunity in the Philippines through rehabilitation and documentation

The IRCT and its member Medical Action Group (MAG) conducted a three-day training on torture documentation last week in Manila. The event was followed by a one-day multi-agency workshop on implementation of the United Nations Committee against Torture’s recommendations on rehabilitation and documentation.  

The Philippines has been plagued for decades by systemic impunity, evidenced by the current widespread practice of torture and extrajudicial executions in the country. Although in 2009, the country enacted a comprehensive Anti-Torture Act, which established a strong framework for the rehabilitation of torture victims and the documentation of their torture experience, these provisions of the Act have not been implemented. Together with MAG, the IRCT has worked to fight impunity by strengthening civil society and health sector partnerships to implement the Anti-Torture Act and to provide rehabilitation and documentation services to victims.

From 24 to 26 October, the multidisciplinary training built the knowledge and practical skills of Filipino legal, medical, and mental health professionals from throughout the country to effectively document torture as mandated by the Anti-Torture Act. This Act adopted the Istanbul Protocol as the appropriate standard for documentation. 

During the workshop on 27 October, the IRCT formulated practical steps to implement the Committee against Torture’s recommendations for the Philippines together with relevant agencies, including the Department of Health, the Office of the President, the Department of Justice, the Department of Interior, the Police, the Commission of Human Rights, and a broad sector of civil society organisations. 

“Although the existing obstacles that prevent full implementation of victims’ right to rehabilitation and documentation in the Philippines are great, it is clear that the commitment of stakeholders is even greater,” said Asger Kjaerum, IRCT Director of Advocacy. 

“The skills and knowledge of training participants and the practical steps that we have formulated demonstrate that the Philippines stakeholders are up to the task.”
These activities are part of a one-year project to contribute to the fight against impunity and ensure redress and rehabilitation for torture victims in the Philippines supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.  


Earlier this year, the IRCT supported MAG and its partners in the United Against Torture Coalition to produce a joint report for the Committee against Torture’s review of the Philippines. In addition, it conducted joint advocacy in Geneva. 

The joint report of the United Against Torture Coalition is available here

To learn more about the Committee against Torture’s recommendations, please see "Committee against Torture calls on the Philippines to fully implement rehabilitation programme"

The UN Committee against Torture’s Concluding Observations on the Philippines are available here.

To learn more about this one-year project, please see "IRCT receives German grant to promote documentation and rehabilitation for torture victims in the Philippines".

To learn more about the work of the Medical Action Group, please visit http://www.magph.org/

“Mental health practitioners in general can convey to others stories and knowledge in such a way that the listener can identify with the torture victims.” - Dr. Karen Hanscom

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