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Anti-Torture Act of 2005

Republic of the Philippines
Quezon City, Metro Manila

First Regular Session


Introduced byAkbayan Party-List  Representatives Loretta Ann P. Rosales, Mario “Mayong” Joyo Aguja and Ana Therisia Hontiveros-Baraquel


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provide that no person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Philippines committed itself to this principle as a signatory to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and eventually by reiterating it in Article III, Section 19 (2) of the Philippine Constitution which provides that “the employment of physical, psychological or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee or the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions shall be dealt with by law."

Despite these provisions of law, however, torture remains prevalent in our country. As in many parts of the world, it has been noted that law enforcers, in particular, have little regard to the prevention, if not the eradication, of torture.  The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, for example, has documented 80 cases of torture with a total number of 172 victims from January 2001 to April 2005, alone. Of this number, 2 are elderly, 15 are children and 5 are women.
Yet, as in the dark years of  the Marcos dictatorship, those who commit such blatant assault to human dignity are hardly convicted or punished appropriately, while justice remains elusive to the victims of such horrible human rights violation.  Among other reasons, this may be attributed to the fact that the Philippines has no enabling law to this date that would criminalize torture, provide penalties therefor and such measures that would prevent it, including education and information and monitoring of jails or prisons. 

To give flesh and meaning to the constitutional mandate against torture, the immediate approval of this bill is earnestly sought.


Be it enacted by the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION  1. Short Title.  This Act shall be known as the "Anti-Torture Act of 2005".

SEC.  2.  Statement of Policy.  It is the policy of the State to fully adhere to the principles and standards on the absolute condemnation and prohibition of torture set by the Constitution and various international instruments, including the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which the Philippines is a signatory.  No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. Towards this end, the State shall ensure that the rights of all persons, including suspects, detainees or prisoners are respected at all times.

 SEC.  3.  Definition of Terms.  The term torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical, mental or pharmacological is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of or with consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity, including officers and men from the military, police and other law enforcement agencies, on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him/her or a third person information or confession, punishing him/her for an act he/she has committed or suspected of having committed, or intimidating and coercing him/her or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind.

 For purposes of this Act, torture shall include but not be limited to the following:

1.  Physical Torture:

a) systematic beatings, headbangings, punching, kicking, striking with truncheons, rifle butts, jumping on the stomach;
b) food deprivation or forcible feeding with spoiled food, animal or human excreta or other food not normally eaten by the victim;
c) electric shocks;
d) cigarette burning, burning by electrically heated rods, hot oil, acid; by the rubbing of pepper or other chemical substances on mucous membranes, or acids or spices directly on the wounds;
e) the submersion of the victim’s head in water or water polluted with excrement, urine, vomit and/or blood until on the brink of suffocation;
f) being tied or forced to assume fixed and stressful bodily positions;
g) rape and sexual abuse, including the insertion of foreign bodies into the sex organs or rectum or electrical torture of the genitals;
h) mutilation, such as amputation of the essential parts of the body such as the genitalia, ears, tongue, etc.;
i) dental torture or the forced extraction of the teeth;
j) harmful exposure to the elements such as sunlight and extreme cold;
k) the use of plastic bags and other materials placed over the victim’s head to the point of asphyxiation; and,
l) other forms of aggravated and deliberate cruel, inhuman or degrading physical treatment or punishment.

2.  Mental/Psychological Torture:

a) blindfolding;
b) threatening the victim or his/her family with bodily harm, execution or other wrongful acts;
c) confining a victim incommunicado, in secret detention places or other forms of detention;
d) confining them in solitary cells or in cells put up in public places;
e) confining them in solitary cells against their will or without prejudice to their security;
f) prolonged interrogation of victims so as to deny the person normal length of sleep and/or rest;
g) maltreating a member of the victim’s family;
h) witnessing the torture sessions by the victim’s family or relatives;
i) denial of sleep/rest;
j) shame infliction such as stripping the victims naked, parading them in public places, shaving their heads or putting marks on their bodies against their will;
k) preparing the prisoner for a show trial, with an end view of ending or even reversing the political effectiveness of the prisoner;
l) inculcation of generalized fear among certain sections of the population; and,
m) other forms of deliberate and aggravated cruel, inhuman or degrading mental treatment or punishment.

3. Pharmacological Torture:

a) administration of drugs to induce confession and/or reduce mental competency;
b) the use of drugs to induce extreme pain or certain symptoms of diseases; and,
c) other forms of deliberate and aggravated cruel, inhuman or degrading pharmacological treatment or punishment.

 SEC. 4.  Inadmissibility of Evidence Obtained through Torture.  Any information, confession or admission obtained from any person shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.

 SEC.  5.  Criminal Liability.  Torture as defined in Section 2 of this Act is hereby declared as a criminal act.  Any person who actually participated in the infliction of torture, or who is present during the commission of said act shall be liable as principal. Any superior military, police or law enforcement officer or senior government official who issued an order to a lower ranking personnel to torture a victim for whatever purpose shall be held equally liable as principals. An order from a superior officer or from a superior in the office or public authority shall not be invoked as a justification of torture. 

 SEC. 6 .  Liability of Commanding Officer.  The immediate commanding officer of the AFP, PNP and other law enforcement agencies or the immediate senior public official shall be held liable as accessory to the crime for any acts of omission or negligence on his part that may have led to the commission of torture by his subordinates.  

 SEC.  7.  Right to Medical Examination.  Any person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation shall have the right to demand a medical examination by an independent and competent doctor of his/her own choice before and after interrogation, which shall be conducted outside the influence of the police or security forces.  If such person cannot afford the services of his/her own doctor, he/she shall be provided with a competent and independent doctor by the investigating officer with the female victim provided with a female doctor.

 The medical report shall include in detail the history and the findings of the physical examination and shall be attached to the custodial investigation report. otherwise, such investigation report shall be deemed null and void and of no effect.

 SEC. 8.  Education and Information and Other measures on the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture.  Education and information regarding the prohibition of torture shall be included in the training of law enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.  This prohibition shall likewise be included in the rules or instructions issued in regard to the duties and functions of such persons. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies shall see to it that this provision shall be properly  implemented.

 It shall be the duty of the CHR to provide the necessary guidelines and measures to prevent torture including the conduct of jail visits and inspections. 

 SEC. 9.  Penalties. 

a) Torture resulting in the loss of life of any person shall be considered as murder and shall be punishable by reclusion perpetua.

b) Torture with rape shall be punishable by reclusion perpetua.

c) Torture resulting in mutilation shall be punishable by reclusion perpetua.

d) Any person found guilty of any other form of torture shall suffer:

d.1. The penalty of reclusion temporal, if other forms of sexual abuse has been also committed, and/or in consequence of torture, the victim shall become insane, imbecile, impotent, blind, or maimed for life;

d.2. the penalty of reclusion temporal if committed against children.

d.3. The penalty of prision mayor in its medium and maximum periods, if in consequence of torture, the victim shall have lost the use of speech or the power to hear or to smell, or shall have lost an eye, a hand, a foot, an arm, or a leg or shall have lost the use of any such member, or shall have become  permanently incapacitated for the work in which he/she was theretofore habitually engaged;

d.4. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if in consequence of torture, the victim shall have become deformed, or shall have lost any other part of his body, or shall have lost the use thereof, or shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance of the work in which he/she was habitually engaged for a period of more than 90 days;

d.5. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the consequence of  torture shall have caused the illness or incapacity for labor of the victim for more than thirty days.

d.6. Mental torture shall be punishable with reclusion temporal or a fine of not less than Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) or both, at the discretion of the court.
In addition to these penalties, any public official or employee found guilty of torture shall be perpetually disqualified from holding any appointive or elective position in the government with all benefits and remuneration due them forfeited.  Persons found guilty of torture shall likewise be disqualified as a candidate for an elective public office.

The above penalties shall be without prejudice to the prosecution of other crimes and other legal remedies available to the victim under the law.
SEC. 10.  Refouler.  No person shall be expelled or extradited to his/her country of origin when there are substantial grounds that he/she will be in danger of being subjected to torture.

SEC. 11.  Protection to Victims of and Witnesses to Torture.  Any individual who alleges he/she has been subjected to torture shall have the right to complain to and to have his/her case promptly and impartially examined by competent authorities.  Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against all ill treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his/her complaint or any given evidence.

 SEC. 12.  Compensation to and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture.  A  torture victim shall have the right to obtain redress and to fair and adequate compensation.

Towards this end, any person who has suffered torture shall claim for compensation as provided for under Republic Act No. 7309, otherwise known as the “Board of Claims Act of 1999”, and under other financial relief programs that may be available to him/her.  In the event of death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his/her dependents shall be entitled to compensation.

 A torture victim shall be entitled to a full rehabilitation through the proper State agencies and/or by a medical practitioner of choice by the victim. 

 SEC. 13.  Implementing Rules and Regulations.  The Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights, with the active participation of human rights non-governmental organizations, shall promulgate the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of this Act.  They shall also ensure the full dissemination of such rules and regulations to all officers and members of various law enforcement agencies.

 SEC. 14.  Repealing Clause.  All laws or any part thereof, inconsistent herewith are deemed repealed or modified accordingly.

 SEC. 15.  Effectivity.  This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days upon its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.


Posted on 2005-07-14

Asian Human Rights Commission
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