Balay Rehabilitation Center (Balay) was featured in the European Union (EU) Philippines Development Cooperation Report 2015. The report highlighted Balay's 10 year partnership with the Danish Institute against Torture (DIGNITY). The cooperation that resulted to a comprehensive psychosocial and advocacy program for torture prevention and rehabilitation for victims has contributed to "the improvement of the national legal and political architecture in relation to the state's obligation under the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT)". Significant milestones include the: (1) Strengthening government compliance with conventions and legislation on the prevention and rehabilitation of torture; and, (2) Strengthening prison management to conform with minimum standards and assist detainees, suffering and increase their functionality.
To mark this year's Human Rights Day, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) together with Balay Rehabilitation Center has launched the report 'In Pursuit of Justice', casting a light on psychosocial support for victims of torture in legal proceedings.
Psychosocial Support for victims of torture in the pursuit of justice is a key area within rehabilitation.
Fear of reprisals and re-traumatisation, no belief in the justice system and fear of stigmatisation from community or family members are some of the factors dissuading victims of torture from participating in legal proceedings against their perpetrators.
In addition, a trial is often an emotionally painful process during which the torture victim will require constant support from health and legal professionals to prevent re-traumatisation.
However, despite the potentially positive impact, the issue currently receives little attention. In general there is a lack of awareness of the degree to which torture can affect a victim's testimony and therefore the impact that participation in legal proceedings can have on the victim's psychological well-being.
By offering victims of torture specialised psychosocial support and access to justice programmes, centres can help them overcome the psychological burden of a trial, and also enhance the therapeutic impact of justice on the individual's rehabilitation.
"On this Human Rights Day, the IRCT puts the spotlight on a critical yet neglected area within the fight against impunity and rehabilitation itself. The positive effects of psychosocial support to victims of torture in legal proceedings and to the fight against impunity cannot be ignored," said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, IRCT Secretary-General.
The report is the result of a fruitful collaboration between our organisation and the IRCT, with the valuable contribution of torture victims and the professionals working to support them.
The report is now available for download at www.irct.org
Opening up and shedding light into Places of Deprivation of Liberty;
Strengthening the protection of Persons Deprived of their Liberty against Torture and Ill-Treatment
UATC Media Statement
5 November 2014, Quezon City
In spite of a domestic legal framework, torture continues to persist in the Philippines. Prominent case include the Tondo Asuncion Community Precinct incident and the Binan "Wheel of Torture" case. While a few cases have been brought to the public, many remain unpublicized. More concerning is the fact that no perpetrator has been brought to justice. Both the Tondo Asuncion Community Precinct and Binan "Wheel of Torture" incident were cases where the victims were in places of detention.
The correctional and custodial system is wracked by many problems. Many jails and prisons are characterized by over-crowding and poor living conditions. Drug abuse, violence, ill-treatment and torture continue to be an issue. Exacerbating the problem is the slow judicial process. These compromise the physical and mental health of prisoners and counteract the goal of development, rehabilitation and reintegration.
Given this context, we are in dire need of a system that will open up and shed light into places of deprivation of liberty through visits by independent experts with a view of strengthening people's protection against torture and ill-treatment.
From: Balay Rehabilitation Center and United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)
What: Media Briefing on Legislating the establishment of a new agency to protect persons deprived of their liberty
When: 5 November 2014, 10:00 AM to 12:00 NN
Where: Max's Restaurant, Quezon City Memorial Circle, Quezon City
On 5 November 2014 (Wednesday), a media briefing shall be held to create public awareness on the obligations of the Philippine Government under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other, Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT): the establishment of a National preventive Mechanism (NPM). The panellists will introduce the importance of having an NPM and a domestic system of regular preventive visits for the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and ill-treatment. The panellists will also expound in the key requirements of setting up the NPM and key features the new institution must have in order to carry out its mandate effectively.
13 to 17 October 2014, Copenhagen Denmark, delegates from Asia, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe gathered for a training workshop about the Data in the Fight against Impunity (DFI) Project. The project aims to create a global network of torture rehabilitation centres collecting a universal set of clinical data. The data is geared towards creating global and regional torture reports. Locally, the data is intended to be a tool to make states accountable; make justice and rehabilitation services accessible to victims and popularize the issue of torture. Balay Rehabilitation Center, together with the Medical Action Group, represented the Philippines in the training workshop. The training workshop was facilitated by the International Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (IRCT). The project is funded by the European Union (EU).