After being sidelined by postponements over the past three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent health restrictions, the second Asia-Pacific Colloquium hosted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) finally resumed on November 27 to December 1, 2022 in Makati City among 40 local and 20 foreign delegates from police agencies of 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific Region.
This year’s humanitarian dialogue was organized in partnership with the Philippine National Police (PNP) with the theme “Law Enforcement and Reducing Humanitarian Risks in the Early Stages of Detention”.
Police Major General Michael John F Dubria, Acting Chief Directorial Staff represented the Chief PNP, Police General Rodolfo S Azurin Jr during the conference while the Chief PNP was also attending another international forum in France.
The 5-day event participated by police organizations from Asia-Pacific region aims to facilitate a discussion among specialists at a policy or planning level on the risks associated with the early stages of detention, to share policy, existing challenges, practical mitigation strategies and lessons from the Asia-Pacific region.
“We have increased the number of scheduled and surprise inspection of PNP custodial facilities nationwide as part of our anti-torture strategy. This is to ensure that persons under police custody are treated in a humane and dignified manner and to uphold their individual rights pursuant to human rights standards and existing laws”, PMGen Dubria said in his message during the opening ceremony.
Some of the objectives of the event are to increase understanding among senior policymakers of the humanitarian challenges arising during the early stages of detention develop an awareness of the causes of high-risk behavior and look at strategies to reduce this in participants’ own contexts, promote mutual understanding between ICRC colleagues and participants, and to set the conditions for operational and policy dialogue between the ICRC and states to share approaches to reduce humanitarian impact even in sensitive areas.
According to PMGen Dubria all police personnel have also been re-oriented on the obligation to inform all persons arrested, detained, or under custodial investigation about their rights under the law including their inalienable and non-derogable right to be free from torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.
“More than just responding to the requirements of human rights laws, we are here to jointly express our firm commitment to uphold the rights of all persons, including persons deprived of liberty, simply because we all need to preserve our inherent dignity and value as human beings”, PMGen Dubria added.
The first conference, co-organized by the ICRC and the Ecuadorian National Police, was held on September 14-16, 2016, in Quito and was attended by 27 senior officers from 13 countries that covered topics such as “Use of force in the maintenance of public order” and “Consequences of the use of firearms in the line of duty”.