Above the Law: Police Torture in the Philippines

A pervasive culture of impunity for torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment within the police force has seen allegations of torture rise year on year in the Philippines, but there has never been a single conviction for torture.

Corruption and impunity fuel abuses, with police electrocuting, beating and raping detainees for extortion, entertainment or to extract a confession. In some cases, officers have even tortured suspects to death.

Torture by numbers

75 – the number of complaints of torture received by the Philippine Commission of Human Rights in 2013

80 – the percentage of those cases where police officers were involved

36 – the number of torture cases investigated by the Ombudsman’s office in 2013. The Ombudsman’s office is an independent agency tasked with investigating complaints against officials

3 – the number of such cases that were referred for prosecution 

0 – the number of successful prosecutions resulting from investigations by the Ombudsman’s office

69 – the percentage of Filipinos who believe the police are corrupt, according to Transparency International

55 – the number of torture survivors interviewed for Amnesty International’s new report: 21 were children when they were tortured and two survived being shot and left for dead

5 – the number of years since the Philippine Anti-Torture Act was introduced

0 – the number of torture convictions secured under the Anti-Torture Act 

28 – the number of years since the Philippines acceded to the UN Convention Against Torture 

Top torture techniques in the Philippines

The Philippines police use an alarming array of torture methods, including:

Electric shocksBeatings, punching and kickingStriking with wooden batons or metal barsBurning skin with cigarettesWaterboardingNear-asphyxiation with plastic bagsForcing detainees to assume stress positions Stripping detainees naked and tying and pulling genitalia with a string Hanging detainees upside downMock executionsShooting Rape