Philippines propose new model for its National Preventive Mechanism

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Philippines have taken an important step towards the designation of a National Preventive Mechanism, with a multi-stakeholder consultation on a draft NPM enabling Bill. Participants agreed on a NPM model of a Board “attached” to the National Human Rights Commission. The revised draft NPM bill will be submitted to the Human Rights Committee of the Senate and Congress by 13 May 2014.

The consultation was attended by 150 representatives from the Philippines Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Committees of House of Congress and Senate, Government agencies, and national and international civil society organisations (including APT and Danish DIGNITY).

In the draft Bill presented by the Philippines Human Rights Commission, two options were proposed: the NPM mandate is given to the Human Rights Commission, or a new NPM Board is attached to the Commission. The consultation therefore involved stakeholders in the discussion on the appropriate NPM model for the Philippines. With the objective of finding the most realistic and practical compromise between the NPM options the participants supported the idea of having an independent NPM, attached to the Human Rights Commission, for the logistical and geographical coverage advantages. The proposed model is specific to the Philippines context and could be considered as an innovative approach in NPM designation. It also shows the flexibility that OPCAT States Parties have in adapting their national mechanism and torture prevention strategies to the domestic context.

The consultation workshop was followed by a one day “drafting group” meeting of 15 stakeholders that focused on reviewing and improving the draft NPM bill. It aimed at including comments and inputs of the consultation as well as ensuring that it fulfils all the criteria of an effective and independent NPM, compliant with the Optional Protocol for the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). 

Without a doubt, more needs to be done in increasing stakeholders’ understanding and appreciation of the preventive approach, which is the foundation of the NPM’s mandate, but the cooperation and dedication shown by the participants in producing the final bill holds great promise for the establishment of an effective NPM in the Philippines.