Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Philippine police accused of torturing teener

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 22, 2011) – The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission has appealed to Philippine authorities on Tuesday to investigate the alleged torture of a Filipino teenager by policemen in the southern city of Kidapawan.

It said John Paul Nerio (See photo released by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission which shows Filipino teen John Paul Nerio whose bruised body is allegedly perpetrated by policemen in the southern Philippine city of Kidapawan.) was arrested in December after police accused him of being involved in a bar fight, an allegation the young Filipino strongly denied. Nerio said he was beaten up and tortured by policemen in front of civilians and other officers inside their headquarters after denying his involvement in the fight.

Nerio was also charged of violating the city’s curfew ordinance. The AHRC said the policemen who assaulted the teenager are members of the local Special Weapons and Tactics.

“After he was tortured at that location they delivered the victim to the Women and Children's Desk (in the same police headquarters) where they reported the victim's arrest, supposedly for violating the city's curfew. Here, the victim was again physically assaulted and tortured in front of the policewoman recording his case and in open view of onlookers some of whom were civilians,” AHRC said.

It said Nerio has complained about the abuse, but was not recorded by the police. Nerio’s father, Pablito, said he was also ignored by the police when he tried to bring the matter to their attention.

“I was just waiting for a friend near a bar when a rumble erupted. I was scared and decided to go home, but the fighting between two groups of men was just behind me so I decided to run and later hide. The policemen arrived and hurled stones at me and ordered me to come out from hiding and when I did, one of them hit me on the chest with the butt of his rifle and the other with his .45-caliber pistol.”

“I said I was not among those fighting, but they still beat me up and kicked me and pushed me to the ground despite my pleadings and telling them that I am innocent of all their accusations and they won’t listen and brought me to the police headquarters where they continue the beatings,” Nerio said.

(John Paul Nerio’s testimony: http://material.ahrchk.net/audio/AHRC-AUD-016-2011-CEB.mp3)

The AHRC said it has written the Philippines’ Public Attorney’s Office and the Commission on Human Rights in Manila about the torture, but there have been no substantial progress in the case.

“The AHRC has already written appeal letters to the Public Attorney's Office and the Commission on Human Rights in Manila respectively requesting their immediate intervention. However, apart from referring the case to their regional offices, no substantial progress has taken place,” it said.

Persida Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney's Office, said she endorsed the AHRC's appeal to their lawyer, Orlando Dano in Kidapawan City, last week and that he has 10 days to submit a report about the alleged police torture. The Commission on Human Rights said the matter has also been referred to its regional office, but Nerio’s family said there have been no investigations so far.

“None of the field staff from either the Public Attorney's Office or Commission on Human Rights who have been tasked to investigate the complaint, have ever contacted them (Nerio’s family) about their case,” the AHRC said.

There was no immediate statement from the police about the allegations, but police brutality is common in the Philippines and in many cases officers themselves have been accused of extrajudicial killings of criminal suspects. (Mindanao Examiner)

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