On 14 December, the United Nations torture prevention experts 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,” said Victor Zaharia, head of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (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. ”, he added.

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.

According to the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), the GRP has neglected its responsibilities to address and prevent torture since acceding to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1986 and its Optional Protocol in 2012.

“The suffering of pre-trial detainees in severely congested and inhumane conditions, as seen in the tragic deaths of baby River and cancer patient Antonio Molina, underscores the government’s callous and deliberate indifference to vulnerable populations in prison, ” the NUPL said.

Human rights alliance Karapatan welcomed the statement of the SPT on the urgent need for a national torture prevention body in the Philippines that would have the power to access all places of detention to prevent torture and other forms of ill treatment.

In an earlier statement, Karapatan urged that the report be made public in the interest of transparency, accountability, and the continued monitoring of the Philippine government’s compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture, to which it is a signatory.