Wilson v. the Philippines

Albert Wilson is a British national who first went to the Philippines as a tourist in 1990. He eventually moved there, got married and lived with his wife and her two children from a previous marriage. In 1996, in what turned out to be fabricated charges as part of a plot to extort money, he was arrested for rape. He was tried and convicted after a trial replete with procedural errors and was found guilty and placed on ‘death row’. In the Philippines, the conditions of detention on death row were excruciatingly difficult for all death row inmates, but particularly for foreigners, who were continually extorted by other inmates with the acquiescence and in some cases on the direct instruction of the prison authorities. He suffered a range of other abuses. He characterised his time on death row as living like an animal in constant fear, living by his wits and the charity of his visitors.

After the complainant was on death row for approximately 1.5 years, on 25 October 1999, the Solicitor General lodged a motion with the Supreme Court acknowledging that the rape charge was a fabrication, and recommending a reversal of the lower court’s decision. On 21 December 1999, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court and set aside the conviction, and ordered Albert’s immediate release from custody. It described the accusation made against him and which resulted in the charges leading to his conviction as “not worthy of credence”. On Albert’s release, the Immigration Commissioner ordered that he was required to pay fees and fines to the Bureau of Immigration for overstaying on his tourist visa (he was in jail on death row during the entire period of his overstay). He was forced to pay before being allowed to leave the country.

Albert is now back in the United Kingdom but is considered an ‘excludable alien’ in the Philippines, meaning he can never go back and visit his family. 

In 2002, REDRESS filed a claim with the United Nations Human Rights Committee, to say that his experiences in the Philippines amounted to torture. The Human Rights Committee agreed, and advised the Philippines Government to afford Albert with an appropriate remedy. To date, the Government has failed to implement the United Nation’s decision. In September 2009, with the help of senior Philippines human rights lawyers, an application was made to the Philippines Supreme Court to oblige the Government to afford Albert with a remedy. The case is pending.

In November 2014, REDRESS’s International Legal Advisor visited the Philippines and discussed the implementation of the UN Human Rights Committee’s Views in the case with lawyers, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights, and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Despite the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Foreign Affairs having committed to following-up on the case with relevant government agencies, there has been no progress. In May 2016 REDREES made a further submission to the HRC expressing concern at the Philippines’ on-going failure to implement the Views, and proposing that the Philippines develop an “implementation plan” to share with the HRC and REDRESS.

For the case filed in the Philippine Supreme Court in September 2009 click here to see the entry under 'National Jurisdictions'.

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