Treat PDL with respect, dignity — CHR

Published April 15, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki 

Persons deprived of liberty (PDL) deserve to be treated with respect and dignity during a national health crisis.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) called on the government to improve jail conditions and other detention facilities in compliance with applicable human rights.

Commission on Human Rights (MANILA BULLETIN)
Commission on Human Rights (MANILA BULLETIN)

Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, CHR spokesperson, said that the Commission is against cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment for PDL especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and officials need to make sure that there will be no transmission and infection among inmates and personnel manning the facilities.

“We recognize that there are already efforts by the national government, including the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), as well as the Supreme Court (SC) to mitigate the harmful effects of possible COVID-19 transmission,” said de Guia.

The CHR is also supporting pending proposals for the temporary release of qualified persons for humanitarian reasons.

This proposal for temporary release stemmed from the committee on justice in the House of Representatives. It seeks to grant temporary liberty to first-time offenders – those who were detained for non-violent, bailable offenses but have no means to do so; those without any history of jumping bail; the elderly and those with existing heart conditions.

“To avoid further decongestion, the government may also consider including the temporary release of curfew and ordinance violators after undergoing the necessary judicial process,” said de Guia.

But if these modes of temporary release are not feasible, the CHR said it would continue to monitor initiatives in preventing the spread of the virus inside jails and other detention facilities.

The CHR has recommended the procurement of appropriate personal protective equipment by concerned offices; the implementation of “e-dalaw” or online visitation; the conduct of online filing before courts, especially on posting bail; and the establishment of isolation facilities for PDL exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.