APF Community Contact us
News : Article

Torture Prevention Ambassador convenes national summit

Graphic: Ms de Guia addresses the conference

The conference brought together high-ranking police and government officials to advocate for better treatment of detainees.

The Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has brought together high-ranking police and leading government representatives together for a National Summit on Torture Prevention.

The National Summit, the first of its kind in the country, was hosted by Atty. Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia, Regional Director for CHR Region IV and a member of APF-APT Torture Prevention Ambassadors initiative.

Since 2014, Ms de Guia has conducted interviews and consultations with hundreds of police officers and detainees across the Philippines in order to better understand the reasons behind the poor treatment of detainees and the support that police officers need to do their work.

As outlined in her recent Torture Prevention Ambassador's blog post, she found that:

  • There is no separate budget allocation for the maintenance of the detention facilities
  • Detainees' food is either provided by their family or by the police
  • Provision of medical services vary from place to place
  • Police officers have to multi-task as duty jailers (and receive little training for this)
  • Police stations are ill-equipped to receive huge numbers of detainees, especially in urban areas, and many do not live up to the standards.

Ms de Guia concluded that a different approach was needed, one that is "participative, positive and consultative. By improving the working conditions of the police, the welfare of the detainees can be uplifted and vice-versa," she wrote.

She set out her findings at the National Summit, which was held in Manila on 4 February 2016 and attended by over 150 participants. The gathering was the third and final phase of her Torture Prevention Ambassadors project.

As part of the proceedings, the CHR launched four 'policy advisories' and a position paper that were developed to strengthen the capacity of the Philippines National Police (PNP) to respect the rights of detainees in their care. One of the advisories focused on the PNP's compliance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

After each presentation, two specialists in the area – one non-uniformed representative of a related agency and one from the PNP – gave a response to add depth and nuance to the issue.

Ms de Guia talks with police officers

More information and short video clips with the Torture Prevention Ambassadors are available on the website of the Association for the Prevention of Torture.

In June 2016, the APF and the APT will launch a Good Practice Report that describes the innovative projects run by our nine Torture Prevention Ambassadors, representing the national human rights institutions of Australia, South Korea, the Maldives, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines and Timor Leste.

The report will also highlight the factors that contributed to the success of these projects in order to encourage and build momentum for further torture prevention initiatives across the Asia Pacific and in other regions.

Members of the Torture Prevention Ambassadors program

The Torture Prevention Ambassadors program is funded by the European Union, as part of the three-year APF project to strengthen the capacity of national human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

Image credits

  1. Ms de Guia addresses the conference - Philippines Commission on Human Rights
  2. Ms de Guia talks with police officers - Philippines Commission on Human Rights
  3. Members of the Torture Prevention Ambassadors program - APF/James Iliffe