ICJ sends letter to Philippine Congress on draft law against torture

The ICJ transmitted today a letter to the Chairman of the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives of the Philippines responding to the position taken by the Philippines’ Department of Justice (DOJ) on House Bill No. 2401.

The ICJ, in its letter, emphasizes that House Bill No. 2401 (H.B. No. 2401) entitled “AN ACT ESTABLISHING A NATIONAL PREVENTIVE MECHANISM AGAINST TORTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES” should be a matter of priority to the Congress of the Philippines.

It adds that a law creating a national preventive mechanism (NPM) should be adopted without further delay for the Philippines to comply with its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

The Philippines acceded to the OPCAT in 2012.

In its position paper, the DOJ proposes that the NPM be merged with the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), the country’s national human rights institution.

The ICJ, however, responds that the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT), has always advocated a clean separation of powers, even where the NPM may fall within the same administrative structure or authority as the generalized NHRI.

The SPT is the international body mandated under the OPCAT to advise and assist States Parties in the establishment of NPMs.

Wilder Tayler, ICJ’s Secretary General, stated in the letter that by keeping a clear separation between the NPM and the CHRP, “the integrity and effectiveness of both the NPM and the CHRP is enhanced.”

Each body is insulated from conflict with the other.

Finally, the ICJ noted that H.B. No. 2401 has already achieved this clear separation and it would be a regression to propose that the NPM be merged with the CHRP.

Philippines-Letter to Congress-Advocacy-Open letter-2015-ENG (full text in PDF)

AdvocacyOpen letters