Today, June 26, is the international day in support of the victims of torture, established by the United Nations in 1997; an occasion to condemn torture, commemorate victims, support survivors and, in general, to highlight the importance of the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, entered into force on the 26th of June 1987. Even though 30 years have passed since then and despite torture being prohibited by customary international law – binding also on members of the international community who are not part of a treaty that explicitly prohibits torture –, this practice is still widespread in many countries.
In the Philippines torture is a pressing and topical issue. In 2014 Amnesty International publishes the report “Above the law: police torture in the Philippines”, documenting how torture and other inhuman and degrading treatments perpetrated by the police forces are actions widely subjected to impunity, even though the country has ratified international instruments such as the Convention against torture and its Optional Protocol and at the national level torture is prohibited by the 1987 Constitution and recognised as a specific crime under the Anti Torture Act of 2009.
Nevertheless, this year something has changed and it’s worth remarking it today: on the 29th of March 2016, the Panmanga court, located in the north of Manila, passed a judgement against the police officer Jerick Dee Jimenez convicting him for the crime of torture perpetrated against Jerryme Corre (you can read his story here). The first conviction of its kind appears as a sign that things are moving towards the end of impunity.
© Amnesty International. Above, Jerryme Corre.