UN body urges Philippines to tackle prison congestion PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 June 2015 08:53

A United Nations torture prevention body has called on the Philippine government to address the “chronic” congestion of detention facilities in the country and to finally enact this year a law that will safeguard the rights of prisoners.

In a statement from Geneva on Wednesday, the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) urged the government to look into the recommendations provided by the body’s six-member delegation that inspected various prisons during a recently concluded fact-finding mission in the country.

Among their recommendations are “to deal urgently with prison overcrowding and improve independent monitoring of places of detention to protect people deprived of their liberty against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

The confidential preliminary observations were presented to relevant Filipino authorities, but the SPT has encouraged the government to make the report public.

“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,” said Suzanne Jabbour, who headed the SPT delegation.

“We encourage the government to find solutions to overcrowding as a priority,” Jabbour said.

To meet its international treaty obligations, the SPT asked the Philippines to enact “as soon as possible” a law that will establish an effective national independent monitoring body for people in detention, known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM).

Manila should already have an NPM in place as early as April 2013, it said.

“An effective, independent and well-resourced National Preventive Mechanism will be crucial to prevent torture and ill-treatment and to improve conditions of detention through a system of regular visits,” Jabbour said.

Among the places the experts visited during their 10-day mission in the Philippines were police stations, pre-trial facilities, prisons, a juvenile rehabilitation center, correctional institute for women and a psychiatric hospital.

The delegation conducted private and confidential interviews with law enforcement officials, medical staff and inmates.

They likewise met members of the Senate, the House of Representatives, government departments, and civil society representatives.

The SPT delegation was composed of Suzanne Jabbour, Arman Danielyan, Marija Definis-Gojanovic, Lorevan González Pinto, Milos Jankovic, and Aneta Stanchevska. — GMA News