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'Torture roulette' found in Philippines police facility

Rights group discovers grim technique in Laguna province

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: January 27, 2014 09:03 PM GMT
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'Torture roulette' found in Philippines police facility
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Human rights groups today slammed the discovery of what has been dubbed "torture roulette", a method of torture allegedly used by police to extract information from suspected criminals.

Amnesty International, which first broke the discovery, said police in Biñan, Laguna, had been strapping suspects upside down to a spinning wheel, and punching them when the wheel slowed to a halt.

"The torture roulette found in the police detention facility shows the brazenness of the torturers and how deeply institutionalised torture is in the police and the army," said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the Filipino rights group Karapatan.

"Torture continues as a policy and a practice of the government,” Palabay sasid. “It is done against its political opponents and even among common offenders."

Loretta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the government's Commission on Human Rights, said her office is already conducting an investigation into the report. "It is horrible," she said, adding that they will prosecute those found to be behind the practice.

Karapatan claims that it has received reports of 15 detainees who were tortured by at least 10 members of Philippine National Police in the province of Laguna. Since President Benigno Aquino came into power in 2010, the group has documented 86 cases of torture by security forces.

Palabay cited the case of Rolly Panesa, a security guard mistakenly identified as an official of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who was beaten by the police and army after being arrested in Laguna province.

Panesa has already filed a case against the officers under the "Anti-Torture Act of 2009." The case remains pending in court.

Allegations of torture are nothing new. On February 2, 2013, Sayapo Maganyo, a mentally-ill resident of Halapitan village in Bukidnon province, was nosing around bodies of soldiers allegedly killed in a clash with rebels when he was arrested.

He was beaten up and forced to give names of "rebel contacts." Sayapo sustained bruises and bumps on his head. After the torture, he was brought to a military detachment and was turned over to the police.

"These cases are proof that torture or other forms of human rights violations are not eliminated by merely enacting laws that criminalize these acts," Palabay said.

She said that "as long as counter-insurgency programs and the culture of impunity pervade, torture and other human rights violations will continue to be perpetrated."

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