[JURIST] The Philippine government delegation to the United Nations in Geneva said Monday that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [official website; BBC profile] will soon begin the process of signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text]. Philippines' accession to the optional protocol will open the country's detention facilities to regular international inspection and recommendations. The protocol was opened for signature in February 2003 and entered into force on June 22, 2006 after the twenty state parties ratified the protocol. It has 61 signatories, 34 of which have ratified the convention.
In March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the United Nations to scrutinize the Philippine government's response [JURIST report] to accusations that the Filipino military has engaged in extrajudicial killings of left-wing activists since 2001. The UN Human Rights Council [official website] is currently conducting its Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines [UN backgrounder, PDF]. Human rights advocates say almost 900 people have been killed since Arroyo assumed power in 2001, while more than 180 have disappeared and believed to have been killed. The United States, Australia, China, Russia, Iran, and Israel are among those countries that have not signed the optional protocol. AP has more.