Prosecute Dyan and Armand’s abductors for violating Anti-Torture Act – Karapatan

The abductors of Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha violated multiple provisions under Section 4 of RA 9745, otherwise known as the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.

Human rights alliance Karapatan called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), as the group accompanied Gumanao, Dayoha and their parents in a meeting with CHR Chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc, to conduct a thorough investigation of the abduction of Gumanao and Dayoha, who were held against their will for six days by men introducing themselves as policemen.

In a factsheet by Karapatan Central Visayas, Dayoha said he and Gumanao were blindfolded and their wrists bound tightly with zipties and forced to wear mufflers and listen to loud music during their abduction. They were brought to and confined in several secret detention places where they were interrogated, accused of having links with terrorists and forced to dissafiliate from their work as activists. They and their families were threatened with harm if they refused to cooperate. All throughout, they were denied access to their families, lawyers and colleagues.

“All these fall under various provisions of Section 4. (a) and (b) defining acts of physical and psychological or mental torture,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Palabay likewise noted the abductors’ violation of Section 7 of the Anti-Torture Act which prohibits “secret detention places, solitary confinement, incommunicado or other similar forms of detention, where torture may be carried out with impunity.” She said Gumanao and Dayoha recalled being brought aboard sea-going vessels and transferred from one secret detention place to another, possibly in another island, before being brought back to Cebu.

“Only state forces have the motivation to abduct and torture activists like Dyan and Armand. They are the only ones who have the resources to maintain networks of safehouses where they can secretly conduct torture and interrogation with impunity,” charged Palabay.

“The authorities should not make a mockery of the Anti-Torture Law, as they did in the case of Rolly Panesa,” she said. Panesa, a security guard who was mistaken for an NPA leader, was arrested in 2012 and beaten up by his military captors, said Palabay. After proving his identity, Panesa sued his tormentors under the Anti-Torture Law. “But his injuries were trivialized, and the perpetrators got off scot-free,” said Palabay.

Since its enactment in 2009, only one policeman has been convicted under the Anti-Torture Law.

“After a thorough and impartial investigation of the Gumanao-Dayoha abduction by the CHR, the state forces found liable for brazenly violating the Anti-Torture Law must be prosecuted and punished,” said Palabay. “Dyan and Armand, and all other persons involved in the investigation and prosecution, including their lawyers, witnesses and relatives should be protected from all forms of harassment, threats and intimidation,” she added.

“As victims of torture, Dyan and Armand are likewise entitled to claim compensation,” said Palabay.

Those found guilty of maintaining secret prisons and inflicting mental or psychological torture may be imprisoned for up to six years under the Anti-Torture Law. #