On May 19, 2009, the UN released the Concluding Observations of the Committee Against Torture on the Philippines’ report.

The entire statement of observations (it’s only 12 pages) can be found here: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/docs/cobs/CAT.C.PHL.CO.2.pdf.

Some highlights:

Section A. Introduction

2.  The Committee welcomes the submission of the second periodic report of the Philippines, which, while generally following the Committee’s guidelines for reporting, lacks statistical information and practical information on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention and relevant domestic legislation. The Committee regrets that the report was submitted 16 years late.

Section C. Principle subjects of concern and recommendations

7. Torture and ill-treatment and insufficient safeguards during police detention …the Committee is deeply concerned about the numerous, ongoing, credible and consistent allegations, corroborated by a number of Filipino and international sources, of routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody…including:

a)   Failure to bring detainees promptly before a judge, thus keeping them in prolonged police custody;
b)   Absence of systematic registration of all detainees, including minors, and failure to keep records of all periods of pretrial detention; and
c)   Restricted access to lawyers and independent doctors and failure to notify detainees of their rights at the time of detention, including their rights to contact family members

9. Impunity…credible allegations of torture and/or ill-treatment committed by law enforcement and military services personnel are seldom investigated and prosecuted and that perpetrators are either rarely convicted or sentenced to lenient penalties that are not in accordance with the grave nature of their crimes.

The Committee reiterates its grave concerns over the climate of impunity for perpetrators of acts of torture, including military, police and other State officials, particularly those holding senior positions that are alleged to have planned, commanded or perpetrated acts of torture.

11. Human rights defenders and other individuals at risk …The Committee notes with concern the numerous documented reports of harassment and violence against human rights defenders that hamper the capacity of civil society monitoring groups to function effectively. The Committee is also concerned at reports that others are also commonly victims of serious human rights violations, including torture, ill-treatment, killings, disappearances and harassment. Among those so affected are indigenous rights defenders such as Lumads of Mindanao and Igorots of the Cordillera, trade union and peasant activists, journalists and reporters, medical personnel, and religious leaders.

12.  De facto practice of detention of suspects …The Committee is deeply concerned about the de facto practice of detention of suspects by the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in detention centers, safe houses and military camps.

15. Prompt, effective and impartial investigations State  bodies lack independence to review individual complaints about police and military misconduct.

18.  Sexual violence in detention [There are] numerous allegations of cases of rape, sexual abuse and torture committed against women detainees by the police, military and prison officials/personnel. .. officials continue to place women together with male inmates, and that male corrections officers continue to guard female inmates in violation of agency regulations.

19.  Children in detention the Committee is concerned that a significant number of children remain in detention and at reports of a de facto practice of not separating children from adults in detention facilities throughout the country

21. Witness Protection detainees who suffer ill-treatment are often coerced by the police to sign waivers or statements to the contrary.

25. Domestic violence the Committee expresses its concern about the prevalence of violence against women and children, including domestic violence. It is further concerned about the lack of State-wide statistics on domestic violence and that sufficient statistical data on complaints, prosecutions and sentences in matters of domestic violence were not provided.

26. Human Trafficking the Philippines continues to be a source, transit and destination country for cross-border trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labour. The Committee regrets the  very limited number  of cases of filing, prosecution, and conviction of perpetrators of trafficking with many of those cases being dismissed at preliminary stages.