UN urges PH to address overcrowding of prisons, maltreatment of prisoners
MANILA, Philippines — The United Nation’s torture prevention body urged the Philippine government to address the overcrowding of prisons and improve the independent monitoring of places of detention.
This was after the UN subcommittee on the prevention of torture concluded its 10-day visit, inspecting detention centers to protect detainees against torture and inhumane treatment.
“We hope, and expect, that the Philippine government 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, head of the delegation.
The UN SPT was in the country from May 23 to June 5, its first visit to the country, to assess the treatment of detainees and the safeguards for their protection against torture and ill-treatment.
The visit is part of its mandate to visit all states that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which has been ratified by 78 countries.
In a statement, Jabbour urged the Philippine government “to find solutions to overcrowding as a priority.”
At the end of its visit, the six-member UN SPT delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to authorities.
The delegation was composed of Jabbour, Arman Danielyan, Marija Definis-Gojanovic, Lorevan González Pinto, Milos Jankovic, and Aneta Stanchevska.
The subcommittee stressed the importance of the enactment of a law to establish an effective national independent monitoring body or a national preventive mechanism, if possible by this year.
Under the OPCAT, states are obliged to set up the NPM within a year of ratifying the OPCAT. The Philippines ratified the OPCAT in April 2012 but has yet to establish an NPM.
Jabbour noted that the Philippines, to meet its treaty obligations, should have set up such an NPM by April 2013.
“We believe that 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,” the head of the delegation said.
The delegation visited police stations, pre-trial facilities, prisons, a juvenile rehabilitation centre, correctional institute for women and a psychiatric hospital.
Members of the delegation carried out private and confidential interviews with law enforcement officials, medical staff and detainees, and also met with members of the Senate, the House of Representatives, government agencies, and civil society representatives.
The SPT will submit a confidential report to the Philippine government on its observations and recommendations on prevention of torture and ill-treatment of detainees.
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