This week Just Asia focuses on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, marked annually on June 26. Torture is a crime under international law. It is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances. Despite this, torture persists in all regions of the world. Concerns about protecting national security and borders are increasingly used to allow torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment. June 26 is an opportunity to call on all stakeholders to unite in support of all those who have been victims of torture and those who are still tortured today.
In Sri Lanka, a new manifestation of torture is seen in torture practiced on innocent persons in mental hospitals. This was revealed in three recent cases that came to the attention of the Asian Human Rights Commission. This is a completely new direction of torture in Sri Lanka, and needs to be addressed immediately, says Basil Fernando, the AHRC’s Director for Policy and Programme Development.
Next, the end of Nepal’s decade long civil conflict may have reduced the number of torture cases, but the methods of torture remain the same. Moreover, torture is still widely practiced in the country. While the new Penal Code of 2017 has provisions criminalizing torture and ill treatment, as well provisions noting that compensation should be paid by the perpetrators, the law remains to be implemented. If put into effective implementation, Nepal’s new Penal Code can act as a strong deterrent against the practice of torture.
In India, Just Asia speaks to Manjula Pradeep, human rights activist and senior consultant at Manuski, an organisation in Pune working with marginalised communities. Ms. Pradeep speaks about how torture affects marginalised communities like Dalits in a disproportionate manner, with instances she has come across during her career.
Moving to Indonesia, the AHRC has documented and reported several cases of torture and ill-treatment conducted by the police over the last year. Torture remains a problem in the country despite 20 years having passed since Indonesia ratified the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). Until today, the Indonesian police are still the most frequent perpetrators to commit torture.
Lastly, the Urgent Appeals Weekly features one case from the Philippines.
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