Public outcry after Philippines prisoners stripped nakedMarch 12, 2017
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is probing a raid where convicts at a local jail were stripped naked and searched.
Thousands of Philippines male prisoners at the Cebu provincial prison were forced to strip bare during a controversial raid last month sparking a public uproar.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has launched an investigation into the alleged human rights violations under President Rodrigo Duterte’s tenure.
The CHR said strip examinations should be undertaken only if absolutely necessary," according to the United Nations’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Also, the Commission is concerned because it may constitute a violation of R.A. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law, the CHR said in a statement sent to CNN Philippines.
According to the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) photos of naked inmates were leaked by jail guards in a bid to discredit the raid.
The photos show the inmates sitting on the floor of the prison quadrangle where many had their hands clutched above their heads.
The surprise raid took place on 28 February where the inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) were woken up before dawn by authorities.
They were congregated in the jail’s open court where they had to remove all their clothes and sit on the floor as the raiding officers searched the cells for illegal items.
The PDEA have deemed the operation as a success since they have nabbed mobile phones, laptops, packets of ‘shabu’ (meth amphetamine) and money amounting to PHP92,000 (US$1,900).
Yogi Filemon Ruiz, the director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-7) who launched the operation to prevent riots said that the raiding officials agreed to give in to the operation.
“I wanted to ensure mutual safety – the safety of the raiding team and also the safety of the prisoners.”
Ruiz was quoted in an online article on CNN Philippines.
Ruiz said the 3,600 male prisoners outnumbered 289 raiding officials. He added that the raiding officials found 68 bladed arms from the mass hunt.
“Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,”
However, human rights organisations have condemned the raid after the photos of naked inmates were circulated online. Some have said that this is another example of Duterte’s disdain for fundamental human rights.
Amnesty International has in its statement that “this incident clearly amounts to cruel inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners.”
Amnesty International cried foul over the inhuman and degrading treatment" of prisoners.
It called on the government to carry out disciplinary actions on raiding officials who are guilty of torturing the inmates.
On the other hand, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that the mass search of all inmates was not entirely absolutely necessary.
“The conduct of these searches – out in the open and permitting photographs to be taken – was inhuman and degrading and violated the prisoners' rights to privacy,” HRW said.
Since his inauguration in June 2016, Duterte has launched a countrywide crackdown on crime and drug use in the Philippines.
An estimated 7,700 people suspected of being drug suppliers or users have been killed by officials. The president has also authorised extrajudicial killings instead of condemning it.