UN urges more humane treatment of prisoners

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The United Nations torture prevention body is urging the Philippines to deal urgently with prison overcrowding and improve independent monitoring of places of detention as part of efforts to protect prisoners against torture and cruel treatment.

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In a statement, Suzanne Jabbour, head of the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT), on Thursday said she hopes the Philippine government will use a report that the committee submitted after its first visit to Manila.

The six-member delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to Filipino authorities.

“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,” Jabbour said.

The SPT also highlighted the importance of the Philippines enacting a law establishing an effective national independent monitoring body, known as National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), as soon as possible this year.

“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,” Jabbour said.

The Philippines should have set up the NPM in April 2013 to meet its treaty obligations.

Jabbour encouraged the government “to move swiftly to establish such body this year.”

Among the places the experts visited during their 10 days in the Philippines were Correctional Institute for Women, police stations, pre-trial facilities, prisons, a juvenile rehabilitation center and a psychiatric hospital.

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