Target: Conchita Carpio-Morales, Philippines Office of the Ombudsman
Goal: Investigate claims of detainee abuse by government forces
Recently surfaced photos show evidence of prisoner mistreatment by security officials in Zamboanga, Philippines. Currently, the region is plagued by conflict as government forces and Moro rebels battle on the streets. The Philippines government has arrested about 300 suspected rebels, some of them children, and placed them into penal colonies where some are beaten and abused.
In early September, the Moro National Liberation Front took hostages in the Filipino city of Zamboanga in an effort to invade the land and declare it as their own. Government forces retaliated, resulting in armed conflict, and the standoff has deteriorated into urban warfare.
A 77-year-old man was arrested as a suspected rebel before being pushed to the ground, kicked, and stepped on by military officials. A trio of teenage boys report being arrested, blindfolded, and beaten during efforts to coerce them into admitting to being Moro rebels. Their bodies were cut and bruised, with whip marks and lacerations on their wrists from being bound so tightly. At least three other children who have been arrested on rebellion charges are claiming mistreatment. Allegations of torture by military and police officials during the early days of fighting have also surfaced.
Only a third of detainees have been formally charged of any crimes, and some have been held for nearly 30 days without charge or trial. Many suspected rebels are interrogated without the presence of legal counsel, and are provided with limited or no access to an attorney during their trial. Families are not informed of members’ detainment, nor allowed to visit.
The Philippines already has a record of detainee abuse in its past, and should be paying special attention to the current state in Zamboanga city. Your signature will demand that the Filipino government investigate these claims of mistreatment by their police and military officials.
Dear Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales,
There have been many recent allegations of detainee mistreatment by government forces in the Zamboanga region. Military and police officials are accused of beating teenagers and elderly men, as well as torturing suspected rebel forces.
Many suspected rebels have not been charged with any crime, yet are detained for prolonged periods of time regardless. During questioning and trial, they have limited or no access to a lawyer. This is contrary to international and Philippines law.
The Philippines’ past record of detainee abuse contributes greatly to the urgency of the situation. No detainee, especially youths and elders, should be harmed in a just legal system. I ask that these and all allegations of abuse are investigated, and any guilty officials prosecuted accordingly.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Shane T. McCoy via Creative Commons