Monday, May 23, 2011

Senate committee to review treaties on international conflicts

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, May 24, 2011-Senator Loren Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will lead in the Senate a hearing on the Optional Protocol on the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) and the Protocol I tomorrow on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 10:00 in the morning at the Pecson room here to review treaties on international conflicts.

“The Protocol I is a supplement to the four Geneva Conventions. It primarily provides civilian population protection from the direct effects of hostilities during international armed conflicts only,” Legarda said.

Last February 16, Legarda said that the committee has already reviewed the OPCAT but it has to be presented again after the Executive Department changed the transmittal from an Instrument of Ratification to an Instrument of Accession, saying that OPCAT requires State Parties to establish an independent national preventive mechanism that would regularly monitor all places of detention, inspect its facilities, and recommend solutions to prevent torture and other ill-treatment.

“I want to ensure that the Committee has taken into full consideration the views of all stakeholders concerned in these agreements before it submits the treaties to the plenary for the concurrence of the Senate,” she said.

The OPCAT is an international agreement aimed at preventing torture and cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which was adopted in 2002 and entered into force in 2006. It also aimed to prevent the mistreatment of people in detention. OPCAT builds on the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CAT) and helps states meet their obligation under CAT.

State parties agree to international inspections of places of detention by the United Nations subcommittee on the prevention of torture (SPT) under the OPCAT. State parties are required to establish an independent National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to conduct inspections of all places of detention to include prisons, juvenile detention, local and offshore immigration detention facilities and other places where people are deprived of their liberty.

There are 50 state parties to the OPCAT and an additional 24 states are signatories. Of the 50 state parties, 29 states have designated their NPM last February 19, 2010. (Jason de Asis)


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