UN antitorture body urges PH to solve ‘chronic’ jail overcrowding
A United Nations body has asked the Philippine government to swiftly act on the issue of overcrowding in prisons and pass a law which will prevent torture and abuses against detainees.
The UN Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) said the government should prioritize the issue of “chronic” jail overcrowding.
“We hope, and expect, that the government of the Philippines will use our report to improve the conditions of people deprived of their liberty, in particular by dealing with the chronic problem of overcrowding in places of detention. We encourage the government to find solutions to overcrowding as a priority,” said Suzanne Jabbour, the head of the six-member SPT delegation.
The delegation composed of Jabbour, Arman Danielyan, Marija Definis-Gojanovic, Lorevan González Pinto, Milos Jankovic and Aneta Stanchevska went to observe and visit various prison and health facilities in the country for 10 days. They also interviewed inmates, law enforcement officials and members of Congress.
In 2014, the Bureau of Corrections reported that eight prison facilities under its jurisdiction were congested by as much as 249 percent.
The BuCor has been under fire after a series of raids in the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City last year yielded illegal drugs, firearms and luxury items from its “high profile” detainees. This gave rise to accusations of collusion and corruption directed to BuCor chief Franklin Bucayu who subsequently resigned from his post.
No replacement for Bucayu has been picked yet.
The UN SPT also called for the passage of a law which would establish the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) which would aid in the prevention of ill treatment and “improve conditions of detention through a system of regular visits.”
The establishment of the NPM will meet the obligation of the Philippines under the Optional Protocol against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which it ratified.
Jabbour said the Philippines should have established the NPM by April 2013.
As of May 2015, 78 parties have ratified the said protocol.
The SPT will submit its confidential findings to the Philippine government. RC
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