ASIA ALLIANCE AGAINST TORTURE LAUNCHING
The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) as the host secretariat of the Asia Alliance Against Torture together with Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), Lokataru Foundation, Jakarta Legal Aid and Forum-Asia convened the launching of this alliance initiative in Jakarta, 24 April 2018. The event was attended by Embassies, Media, university students, and government stakeholders. The representatives from each organization delivered various presentation related to the issue of torture in Asia, including the launching of the alliance’s website.
First of all, Yati Andriyani – Executive Coordinator of KontraS delivered a presentation regarding the trend of torture practices in Asia. The practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman, degrading ill-treatment already become a routine practice in Asia region that mostly influenced by culture and religion values. Torture has been justified in the name of the security interests and war on terror or separatism for example. Various Asia countries have the legacy within the repressive regime and authoritarianism that created the culture of violence as one of the acceptable and tolerated approaches for the interest of the authorities.
In general, there are no recognition and legal commitment to prevent and abolish the torture practices in Asia. Some of the Asian countries already have their own regulations related to torture practices. Nonetheless, in the implementations and reality, it is far different. We could conclude that the main challenges of the torture practices are because of the weakness of the system, capacity, gap and disharmony between the domestic law and international standards, and the culture of violence as well as impunity become the common trend that faced by the Asia countries to abolish torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments.
Secondly, Alghiffari Aqsa the Director of Jakarta Legal Aid in 2008 conducted research regarding the practice of torture against the suspects in the Police Institution, at least there were 83,65% from 367 respondents equal with 307 respondents stipulated that while in the police investigation, they faced violence, whether from the arrests to the interrogation. There are several patterns within the practice of torture in Indonesia.
First, it is illegal because it is against with the constitutional guarantee and legislation both in the national or international level that prohibits torture. Second, it is escalated because the practice of torture occurs in the whole process of the criminal integrated justice system. Torture also occurs started from the process of arrests, interrogation, detention and punishment. Third, it is systematic because its conducted by the law enforcement apparatus or by a person with the recognition and approval (silently and openly) by the law enforcement apparatus, and committed with every forms towards the physical, psychological or sexual, patterned and driven by certain motivation. Fourth, institutionalized because the practice of torture not only because of the matters of ‘persons of apparatus’, but also because it occurs systematically become an acute problem that institutionalized. There are no sterile institutions from the practice of torture. All of the law enforcement has the various level of involvement and the practice of torture accepted as the pattern of act and pattern of the apparatus within the process of the criminal justice system.
Thirdly, Masha Lisitsyna the Senior Legal Adviser of Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) explained about the international standards regarding torture, which stipulated that torture is a form of crime that could not be tolerated. Torture is a serious crime and various experts mentioned about that. According to the international law, every person has a responsibility to prevent torture and being responsible if committed to such crime.
Within the international law, there is also some regulation regarding human rights training for the state apparatus that could prevent the practice of torture since it also regulated about the human rights standards within the act of the security apparatus. As a global initiative, Juan Mendez establishes one guideline regarding the investigative interview to seek the evidence to the suspects. The highlight of this guideline is to explain that torture is ineffective, immoral and illegal during the whole legal processes such as investigation process. It is also explained about the regular visit and unannounced visit to the detention centers, periodic reports, etc.
Fourthly, Cornelius Hanung the Program Associate of ASEAN Programme from Forum-Asia explained about the Fact-Finding Mission to Cox Bazaar, Bangladesh in particular to the Rohingya refugee camp to seek the actual situation of the impact on the brutal regime in Myanmar that caused to ethnic cleansing against the minorities in Rakhine State. Forum-Asia and its member representatives went to Lambasia, Kutupalong, Balukhali and Thyngkali. The condition of the camp is very pity since some of the facilities already damaged and most of the refugees are difficult to access their rights such as the right to education, right to work and others. However, the Bangladesh government deployed armies and transported them to the old refugee camp. Camp in charges received them and put them near the old refugee camps. Currently, there are 30 camps including 20 registered and 10 unregistered camps.
There are no facilities of a formal education for the children in the refugee camp. Some of the refugees suffer the same symptoms of diseases such as gastric, bleeding, skin itching, urinary tract infection and acidity as well as thyroid. There are some clinics and mental health facilities, but it is inaccessible. There is strong desire from the Rohingya to go back home and to demand nationality, security, provided with their properties as before. They also really wanted for a formal education for the children in the refugee camp. However, the most important thing that they demand is for the justice and compensation from the Myanmar government and also to be included in any decision or agreement made by the Government of Bangladesh and Myanmar regarding the repatriation, and demand for responsibility to protect from the state.
Lastly, Haris Azhar – Director of Lokataru Foundation concluded that, according to all presentations from each organization, Asia still have numerous incidents of torture with various similarities that could be prevented with a collaborative movement. Asia Alliance Against Torture that consists of 15 organizations from 11 countries could become one of the avenues to conduct universal jurisdiction to prevent torture in Asia countries.
Asia Alliance Against Torture (A3T) as a collaborative movement could do several advocacy approaches such as fact-finding mission, international mechanism, universal jurisdiction and collaborative campaign throughout the Asia countries not only to share the knowledge the importance of preventing torture but also to demand to the government to establish and implement fully the anti-torture mechanism according to the international human rights standards.