Human rights communities worlwide mark June 26 as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
The Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas observe this important date by remembering the countless victims of torture, and to continuously pushing through concrete actions in seeking justice.
Torture has no place in a civilized society like ours. We must relentlessly seek needed process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging torture, and all forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as absolutely prohibited and universally illegal.
But as much as we want to aknowledge efforts from the security forces for the reorientation of its ranks to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, reports of violations are again taking its toll.
A recent case was reported about a leader-farmer who claimed that he was abducted and tortured by the military on june 7, 2012, in Lopez, Quezon Province.
Barrera was allegedly hit in the nape with a rifle butt when he failed to identify the persons in the picture presented by the military. He claimed that he was forced to swallow three spoonful of salt and made to drink water to liquefy it. He managed to escape and was eventually confined at Doña Martha Memorial Hospital in Atimonan, Quezon.
Given this incident, we call on the military and police to lay down its track and seriously strive for a total reformation of their respective institutions in the work for human rights, particularly the protection and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders with the likes of Barrera.
In the recent United Nation’s process of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last month, our government claimed a decrease in the number of reported cases of torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings; but, one victim of any human rights violations is too many.
Efforts to prosecute perpetrators remain insufficient. And there is still much concern over slow convictions for human rights violations.
Up to the present, cases involving Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr, has not been resolved. He is accused of torture, killing and disappearance of political activists. Palparan is still at large.
It is not a question of whether or not cases of torture have been lessened. It is on how our government solves and permanently eradicates this procedure in their practices. The police and military should seriously respond to this challenge by identifying concrete steps, clear policy and truthful implementation of their sworn duty based on the international standards of human rights.
As a measure of sincerity to end cruel, degrading and inhuman act, the government especially Presidentmust openly declare war against torturers, and yield them with appropriate penalties they deserve.
Finally, soon we hope that the principles of human rights are truly considered as vital in the creation of a worldwide culture of peace and development.###