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Bataan jail execs violated inmates’ rights in riot— CHR

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:15:00 10/30/2010

Filed Under: Human Rights, Prison, Riots

MANILA, Philippines?The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Friday the jail guards of the Bataan provincial jail committed human rights violations against inmates in the October 16 riot that left 57 prisoners injured.

CHR chief Loretta Rosales also recommended that the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Justice investigate the prison officials involved in the abuses that included the use of excessive force and illegal ammunition.

?Based on our investigation, it is clear that human rights violations were committed against the prisoners. The injuries suffered by some prisoners reveal that excessive force was used against them. The nature and location of some injuries even suggest that the prisoners were beaten while they were defenseless,? the CHR said in its report released Friday.

?Indeed, the use of pressured water hose had already caused the prisoners to lie prostrate on the ground. Worse, rubber bullets were fired at some prisoners, belying the claim that the shots were only warning shots. These rubber bullets were not officially issued by the government; their use was not officially sanctioned,? the report noted.

The CHR's investigation stemmed from the clash between the jail guards and the inmates of the Bataan jail on October 16.

According to reports, about 900 inmates staged a protest inside the Bataan provincial jail, after the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) conducted ?greyhound operations? inside the jail. The guards confiscated contraband items from the inmates and dismantled makeshift shanties inside the prison compound.

The protest escalated into a riot between inmates and jail officials, who used force, truncheons and water hoses against the prisoners, the CHR noted. Some inmates destroyed their cells and parts of the building, the CHR said.

Rosales said the Justice and the Local Government departments should conduct further investigation of the Bataan jail riot, noting that what happened last October 16 was a symptom of the ?sorry state? of the country's jail system.

Rosales said the probe should address the guards' excessive use of force, use of the rubber bullets and lack of information to the prisoners.

The BJMP had fired nine Bataan officials of the provincial prison, it announced Thursday.

The BJMP said the inmates who destroyed government property would also face charges. Nineteen prisoners accused of instigating the protest were transferred to Olongapo City, the CHR said.

?Their investigation should result in the identification of what went wrong before, during and after the incident. They should also identify who should be held accountable, and what are the necessary steps to correct the mistakes,? Rosales said.



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