Blog: Fernando Delgado

August 24, 2011

Clinic Files UN Complaint on Behalf of Filipina-American Abducted and Tortured in the Philippines


PRESS RELEASE


Melissa Roxas asks UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to call for full and impartial investigation
into her abduction and torture in the Philippines in 2009


August 24, 2011, Los Angeles, CA
—Filipina-American Melissa Roxas has filed a submission with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture seeking justice for the abduction and torture she suffered in the Philippines in 2009.  The submission, prepared by the International Human Rights Clinic and the firm of Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison LLP, requests that the Special Rapporteur call upon the Philippines government to investigate Ms. Roxas’s abuse in order to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable.

Melisa Roxas speaks into a microphone.
Melissa Roxas, a Filipina-American, was kidnapped and tortured in the Philippines in 2009.

In May 2009, Ms. Roxas was preparing for an aid mission in the Philippines when approximately fifteen armed men abducted her, along with two companions.  She was then held for six days, during which time she was kept blindfolded and handcuffed, deprived of food and water, and brutally interrogated.  During these interrogations, Ms. Roxas was choked, beaten, and suffocated with a plastic bag.  While in captivity, Ms. Roxas heard sounds consistent with those of a military airbase.  For example, some of her captors used the greeting “sir,” and one informed her she had been detained by a special forces unit of the Philippines military.

Ms. Roxas initially pursued investigations in the Philippines, but with limited success.  While the Philippines judicial system and other bodies agreed that her allegations of detention and torture were factually true, they failed to identify the perpetrators.  Some of Ms. Roxas’s efforts to investigate were barred.  For example, though Ms. Roxas presented evidence indicating that she had been abducted by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, she was prohibited from inspecting the military base where she suspects the detention occurred.

“Although no one denies the abuse that I suffered, the Philippines government has repeatedly denied me justice for it,” said Ms. Roxas, who continues to seek a full and impartial investigation that will lead to accountability for those responsible.

“Faced with a lack of transparency and a lack of results in the Philippines, Melissa Roxas had to turn to the UN,” said Paul Hoffman, Ms. Roxas’s attorney at Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison.  “Rather than accepting impunity she is taking her case to the international level.”

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May 9, 2011

Five Years After Deadly May 2006 São Paulo Attacks, Report Documents Role of State Violence and Corruption in Organized Crime


PRESS RELEASE


Report by Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic and Brazilian NGO demonstrates central role of police brutality, corruption, and prison mismanagement in major security crisis of May 2006 and today


May 9, 2011, São Paulo, Brazil—Five years ago, a series of coordinated uprisings in 74 detention centers and attacks on police stations and public buildings left 43 state officials and hundreds of civilians dead and brought South America’s largest city and financial capital to a standstill.  São Paulo streets were deserted as residents stayed at home in fear.  After the violence coordinated by the organized crime syndicate the “First Command of the Capital” (Primeiro Comando da Capital, or “PCC” by its Portuguese initials) stopped, police killed scores of civilians in a wave of reprisal attacks, targeting those they suspected of having criminal backgrounds, in many cases relying apparently only on the youth, skin color, presence of tattoos and presence on the streets of poor neighborhoods at night.  Evidence in 122 killings contains signs of police having committed an extrajudicial execution.

Today, five years later, Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic  and the leading Brazilian human rights group Justiça Global release a comprehensive study of the May 2006 attacks.  The Report, “São Paulo sob Achaque: Corrupção Crime Organizado e Violência Institutional em Maio de 2006”, seeks to answer several questions essential to public security in Brazil: What led to the attacks?  Why were state authorities unable or unwilling to prevent them?  Why and how did the police lash out violently in revenge killings?  Why have the crimes committed by the state not been investigated, and in many cases, apparently covered up?

The result of five years of investigation—including hundreds of interviews; scores of on-site visits to jails, prisons, and communities affected by violence; meetings with a broad range of authorities; and a  review of thousands of pages of documents, police reports, and judicial records—sheds new light on the May 2006 attacks.  “Official corruption, tragically, was a driving force behind the May attacks.  PCC leaders—new information in the study confirms—coordinated their assault in large part as a response to a series of organized shakedowns by the police,” said Fernando Delgado, a fellow at Harvard Law School and the principal author of the report.  “The evidence indicates that a year prior to the attacks, police were using wiretaps, kidnapping, and other abuse of family members of gang leaders to extract bribes.  The PCC decided to retaliate brutally and brought the city to a halt.”

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