CHR probes secret jail facility in Cebu

The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday raised concern over an alleged detention, rape and torture of two women in a secret detention facility in Cebu.

Despite the filing of criminal charges, the CHR in Region 7 has launched an independent investigation into whether a secret jail exists inside the police premises and if there are other human rights violations being committed there.

The regional body is already in constant coordination with the complainants and working together with the Philippine National Police’s Integrity Monitoring and Enhancement Group Visayas Field Unit to ensure the safety of the former detainees.

“Moreover, we welcome the commitment and cooperation of the deputy director for operations of Cebu City Police Office saying that they shall not condone any abuse of authority and welcome the CHR’s investigation as part of their internal cleansing,” spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

Despite the prohibition under the Constitution 1987 and Anti-Torture Act of 2009 on the use of secret detention facilities, “CHR has noted through its investigations around the country that such illegal practice persists in places of detention where cases of torture and other ill-treatment are likely to take place,” she said.

“Women in particular are most vulnerable to different forms of violence in places of deprivation of liberty as a means of coercion to elicit confessions, to humiliate and dehumanize them or merely to use the opportunity of their absolute powerlessness.”

As the lead agency in the interim national preventive mechanism, the CHR is consistently 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 ensures prompt, impartial, thorough and effective investigations into all reports of these violations committed by the police and other state agents,” De Guia said.

“It is high time for the government to enact legislation that will mandate the creation of national preventive mechanism as part of our commitment to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the Philippines is a State party to.”

Apart from physical and psychological harm, the CHR said preventing torture means improvement of the facilities and reduction of the congestion, which are equally important in recognizing the human rights and dignity of persons deprived of liberty.

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