The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has condemned the reported secret jail in Cebu City’s Sawang Calero police station where two women were allegedly detained, raped, and tortured.
It said that while criminal charges have been filed against 11 police officers for their alleged involvement, it has decided to conduct its own investigation to determine if the secret jail actually exists and if other human rights violations have been committed.
Officers in the police station have denied the existence of a secret jail in its premises.
Despite the prohibition under the Constitution and Anti-Torture Act of 2009 on the use of secret detention facilities, the CHR has learned from its many investigations that such illegal practices sadly persist, Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement on Thursday, April 8.
De Guia, a lawyer, said that women, in particular, are most vulnerable to different forms of violence in places where their liberty is deprived. These acts are done to them either to coerce them to confess, humiliate, or dehumanize them, she said.
She pointed out that the CHR, as the lead agency in the Interim National Preventive Mechanism, has been recommending measures to combat all forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment inside prisons.
“We also urge the government to publicly acknowledge and condemn the persistence of torture and other ill-treatment, and ensure prompt, impartial, thorough, and effective investigations into all reports of these violations committed by the police and other state agents,” she said.
Aside from the abolishment of secret jails and acts of physical torture and psychological harm, the CHR also stressed that it is important to decongest jails in order to provide persons deprived of liberty with human rights and dignity, she stressed.
In the case of two women allegedly abused inside a secret jail, De Guia said the CHR has gotten in touch with them and is also working with the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Integrity Monitoring and Enhancement Group Visayas Field Unit to ensure the safety of the former detainees.
She said the CHR welcomed the commitment of the Deputy Director for Operations of Cebu City Police Office not to condone any abuse of authority. The office also agreed to adhere to the CHR’s investigation as part of its internal cleansing.