Born with dignity, safe in custody: Bernadette Fae Taroc wins APT’s regional speech competition

In a testament to the power of youth advocacy, Bernadette Fae Taroc, 22, emerged victorious the Safe in Custody Regional Speech Competition.

This remarkable student from the University of San Carlos, in Cebu, The Philippines, captivated the audience with a speech that shed light on the pressing issues surrounding incarceration and safety within her country and other countries in the region.

The Safe in Custody Regional Speech Competition, held in Kuala Lumpur on January 20, 2024, brought together students from Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines, each with a unique perspective on the issue of torture in their countries. Under the #SafeInCustody Project, the APT and partners Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF), and Taskforce Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) held a series of national speech competitions in the three countries, from which two winners were selected to compete against each other in the final round. From this, Bernadette Fae Taroc stood out amongst the judges.

Ms Taroc also highlighted how fulfilling the whole experience was, and how it served as an opportunity to share experiences with peers from across the region. “I found the experience very enlightening and really fun! Not only did I enjoy hanging out with such bright and energetic people; I also learned a lot about their cultures and the causes that they themselves are fighting for. This experience really broadened my horizons and exposed me to new cultures, causes which I did not know about, and very inspiring people who share the same vision for a torture-free society.”

“What set Bernadette Fae Taroc apart was not just the compelling content of her speech but the authenticity and sincerity with which it was delivered,” said Nid Satjipanon, APT’s Regional Project Manager. “The audience could feel the genuine commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of those affected by incarceration. It was a powerful reminder that a single voice, armed with conviction and compassion, can spark change and ignite conversations that lead to meaningful reforms.”

The APT would like to thank the distinguished panel of judges, which included Deputy Head of Mission of the Swiss Embassy Ralph Stamm, APT Board Member Cecilia Jimenez, and Murni Abdul Hamid from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The APT also acknowledges the insightful opening remarks by SUHAKAM’s Commissioner Tengku Mohamed Fauzi Tengku Abdul Hamid, who stressed the importance of listening to youth voices and addressing the urgent issues surrounding safety in custody.

As we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Bernadette Fae Taroc, we are reminded of the transformative power that effective communication holds. Through her words, Bernadette Fae Taroc is able to be an ambassador for change, shining a spotlight on the need for shifting of mindsets and reject torture and ill-treatment.

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