Jerryme Corre has been released in the Philippines after being tortured by police and spending 6 years in jail on trumped up drug charges. Thousands of Amnesty activists in Australia and around the world have campaigned for his freedom since 2014.
Despite years of delay, hearings were held in January 2018 concerning the charges. On 2 March, a motion to dismiss his case was granted, citing a lack of evidence. Jerryme was released the same day.
Jerryme was visiting a relative in Pampanga province in January 2012 when plain-clothed officers arrested him and took him to a police camp. They electrocuted him, punched him and threatened to kill him. The police accused him of being involved in drug-related crimes, of robbing and killing a foreigner, and of killing a police officer.
While torturing Jerryme, the police repeatedly called him by the name “Boyet”, even though his ID proved that was not his name. Jerryme was forced to sign a “confession” which he was not allowed to read.
In 2016 a police officer was convicted of torturing Jerryme, in the first ever conviction under the Philippines’ 2009 Anti-Torture Act. Despite this ruling, Jerryme remained in prison and the charges against him were not dropped.
Torture and ill-treatment by police remain a critical human rights problem in the Philippines. Despite declarations by the government that they would address this issue, justice is still out of reach for many victims.
Torture victims – most of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds – are reluctant to come forward and file a complaint due to fear of reprisals and a lack of confidence that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.
A bill to establish a National Preventative Mechanism for torture in accordance with the Philippines’ obligations under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture has yet to be adopted by the government.
How did Amnesty respond?
Jerryme’s case was featured in Write for Rights, our annual letter-writing marathon, and as part of Amnesty International’s global Stop Torture campaign.
In March 2015, Amnesty staff in the Philippines handed a petition with 70,000 signatures to the Philippine National Police calling for Jerryme’s release.
Following this, Jerryme Corre and his family were informed that an investigation would be opened by the police’s Internal Affairs Service, in line with Amnesty International’s calls. During the first hearing, it was confirmed that the investigation was initiated as a result of letters received “by a human rights organisation”.
On 16 February, the day before his birthday, staff from Amnesty in the Philippines visited Jerryme in prison and delivered letters wrtten to him by Amnesty activists in Australia and around the world.
During the visit, Jerryme said that he had also received letters directly, and the warden commented that Jerryme became quite the celebrity as letters poured in from across the globe.
Jerryme and his wife said that the amount of support they were getting gave them them hope and courage:
“I can never give enough thanks. These [letters] give me strength. It even changed the course of my case as compared to before. It also gives courage to my wife. We are not alone in this fight. Many people also seek justice for us.”
Jerryme corre, torture survivor
Following his release, Jerryme is back at home in Pampanga with his wife and step-children. He has been able to visit his mother and his father’s graveyard, following his father’s death while he was in prison.
Jerryme has asked that we pass on his utmost gratitude to Amnesty supporters for not giving up on him and continuing to campaign for human rights. While he hopes that he is the last to have been tortured and falsely accused in the Philippines, he knows that there are many like him.
Jerryme and Amnesty are urging the government to end impunity, make accountability for perpetrators a priority, further strengthen the criminal justice system, uphold the rule of law and due process, and ultimately, respect and protect human rights in the Philippines.