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Friday, June 27, 2008

Cops join run for human rights

By Jeannette Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 11:50pm (Mla time) 06/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- In an event rarely seen, policemen and activists on Thursday staged a run to dramatize their opposition to all forms of torture and degrading acts as they kicked off celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT) had for its highlight the participation of some 200 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), one of two organizations—the other being the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)—which has received the most number of accusations of human rights violations.

The BRAT kicked off in front of the Oblation statue at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman at around 8 a.m. Thursday and ended at the Quezon City Hall.

BRAT was launched by Amnesty International in coordination with the Quezon City local government, the House of Representatives committee on human rights, the Commission on Human Rights, the Public Attorney’s Office, the Akbayan Citizens Action Party, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, all under the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC).

Maria Edilyd Orias, Amnesty International spokesperson, said that the 200 police officers who joined the run were assigned to the PNP Human Rights Office.

The officers were led by Senior Superintendent Lina Sarmiento, who expressed solidarity with the messages that the run intended to disseminate, that “torture is abhorrent” and “torture is illegal.”

Torture, Orias said, remained widespread in the country despite strong provisions in the Constitution against the practice and despite the Philippines being a signatory of the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) since 1987.