Melissa Roxas abduction and torture highlights the immediate need for passage of Anti-Torture Law

“Melissa Roxas is a very brave lady. I had reservations before if we should continue with this hearing because I know that she has been asked repeatedly to narrate about her case during the CHR and CA hearings. But I am glad that she showed amazing strength and was able to come here to answer our questions. Her abductions highlighted the need for an anti-torture law to be passed immediately in the country. “This is the reaction of the Rep. Lorenzo ‘Erin’ Tañada III, chair of the Committee on Human Rights of Congress during the July 29 hearing on the torture and abduction of Filipino-American Melissa Roxas on .

Roxas, who was forcibly taken by armed men in La Paz, Tarlac last May 19 and surfaced six days later, said that she was subjected to physical and mental torture during her captivity. She came back to the Philippines last July 20, to attend court hearings on her writ of amparo and writ of habeas data petitions.

Tañada laments that the Philippine Government, which is a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, acted dismissive when Roxas’ abduction was first reported. “It is deplorable that they even denied that any reports existed, when in fact, the police report and the memo is available. They didn’t even double check the reports but was quick in saying that the abduction never happened.“

“ Now the solicitor general’s office, which seems to act as the lawyers for the suspected state agents in the case, even went so far as to insinuate that Melissa is an artist who took acting classes and is thus an accomplished liar. “ he added.

“I believe Melissa had strong reasons to believe that it was the military who abducted her. Which group exactly, that is what we want to find out because they should be held accountable and punished accordingly. It is important to prevent such abductions and torture from happening again.“

“I hope that the Anti-Torture Bill, which is now being scheduled for a bicameral conference, will be signed into law immediately by the President once it reaches Malacañang. This will be the greatest proof that the government is sincere in protecting and upholding Human Rights in the country,” he ended.

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