Statement of the Commission on Human Rights lauding the proposed bills that seek to establish a National Preventive Mechanism

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights lauding the proposed bills that seek to establish a National Preventive Mechanism

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lauds the filing of various bills that seek to establish a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) in compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). The proposed legislation signifies a crucial step towards addressing the conditions of persons deprived of liberty, which may potentially amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, or even torture.

Having acceded to the OPCAT since 17 April 2012, the government is mandated to establish a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) through legislation. In 2016, CHR aimed to create an interim NPM (INPM) to encourage the government to adhere to the mentioned convention and its optional protocol. Subsequently, the INPM has persistently campaigned for the enactment of legislation to establish the national NPM, and has carried out proactive monitoring visits to specific places of deprivation of liberty. The filing of the bills—Senate Bill (SB) No. 2522, SB 2486, House Bill (HB) No. 08780, HB 06305, and HB 08933—further reinforce this commitment and underscores the importance of safeguarding the dignity and well-being of all individuals, especially those in situations of vulnerability.

Our gratitude goes out to the legislators who sponsor the various bills, specifically Senators Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid, Francis N. Tolentino, Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa in the Senate of the Philippines, and Representatives Bienvenido M. Abante and Rufus B. Rodriguez in the House of Representatives. By recognizing the importance of establishing an NPM, they demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding the rights and dignity of individuals deprived of their liberty.

The proposed bills hold the promise of not only fulfilling our international obligations but also of instituting a robust framework for preventive monitoring visits to all places of deprivation of liberty to include mental health institutions and youth rehabilitation facilities. More than a legal obligation, it is a moral imperative to prevent and address any potential instance of mistreatment or abuse to genuinely foster a culture of accountability and respect for human rights in our country.

We urge all stakeholders to support this important legislative endeavor and to work towards the prompt enactment of the NPM bill to signify our collective commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights for all individuals under our care and custody, especially against torture and cruel inhuman degrading treatment or punishment. ###