The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has urged the immediate investigation into the death of a former female detainee who had accused policemen of the Sawang Calero station in Cebu City of sexual abuse and extortion.
Ritchie Nepomuceno, who was shot to death last April 19, was arrested by the police last March 9 and detained thereafter on illegal drugs charges. She was released last March 11. She accused several policemen of extortion and rape. Published reports stated that the policemen denied the charges.
After his release, Nepomuceno reached out to the CHR Region VII and asked for an investigation on the reported abuses committed against her and other detainees.
CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia, in a statement, said that Nepomuceno’s death only shows that reprisals and the risks of being subjected to more attacks are “grave concerns” when speaking out and pursuing justice for human rights violations.
“We stress that women victims, as key witnesses, should be granted full protection from any form of retaliation or attacks to ensure that they may exercise their right to participate in investigations and legal proceedings,” De Guia, a lawyer, said.
“This is an important guarantee so that those aggrieved may ultimately pursue justice and accountability without fear from the perpetrators of human rights violations,” she added.
She pointed out that a speedy investigation should be conducted since there are other complainants who remain vulnerable to violence.
She also said that the CHR has already started conducting an independent probe on the incident and will look into all angles of the case since police officer Celso Lucero Colita, one of the identified suspects, was reported to have shot himself on the same night of Nepomuceno’s death.
The Cebu City police, however, has asserted that Nepomuceno’s death has nothing to do with Colita’s alleged suicide.