May 14, 2015
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580
Probe Miradel Torres’ case, Karapatan asks UN Sub-comm on Prevention of Torture
Karapatan welcomed the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (UN SPT) scheduled country visit to the Philippines on May 25 to June 3, 2015. Karapatan also urged the UN SPT delegation to visit and look into the conditions of political prisoners, especially Miradel Torres, a breastfeeding mother of a five-month-old baby detained at the Taguig City Jail.
“We appeal to the UNSPT delegation headed by Mr. Malcolm Evans to also investigate the violations of the rights of the detainees as most of them face trumped-up criminal charges and are suffering from inhuman conditions and repression in detention centers,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.
On April 13, 2015, the Quezon Regional Trial Court Branch 65 denied Miradel Torres’ motion to quash information for charges of murder and frustrated murder. The RTC cited the testimony of Pfc. Mc Ronald Bamba as basis that “probable cause exists.” Pfc. Bamba is a member of the Alpha Company, 16th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, said to be one of the victims of the ambush from which Torres’ case was based.
PFC Bamba’s testimony, however, failed to directly name Torres. The inclusion of Torres’ name in Bamba’s affidavit came from his recollection of the roll-call supposedly done by Torres’ leader after the firefight happened. “It is unlikely that armed persons, after a firefight, will do a roll call of their names. It is also unlikely that Bamba will be able to remember more than 20 names several years after, and under such circumstances,” Palabay said.
The UN SPT delegation visits places of detention in specific countries to examine the condition of prisoners’ detention, their daily life, and how they are treated. It also studies relevant legislative and institutional framework and other issues related to the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners.
In a letter addressed to Mr. Evans signed by Palabay and Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan said it looks forward to the visit as an opportunity for torture survivors to air out their experiences.
Karapatan also urged the UN SPT to visit political prisoners in Special Intensive Care Area-1 (SICA-1) at Camp Bagong Diwa who recently filed complaints at the Office of the Ombudsman and at the Taguig Regional Trial Court against jail warden Michelle Ng-Bonto for violations of RA 7438 that pertains to the rights of detained persons.
As of March 31, 2015, there are 527 political prisoners documented by Karapatan; 220 of them are arrested under the current BS Aquino administration. Torres is among the 43 women political detainees while there are 42 are elderly and 60 are with ailments. “Karapatan also documented 110 victims of torture, despite the existence of the Anti-Torture Law. But none of the state perpetrators of torture were brought to jail,” said Palabay. ###
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.