An Update on the Study on the Condition of Jails
and Correctional Institutions in the Country
Commission on Human Rights
Universal standards applicable to everyone have been established with respect to prohibitions that exist in national and international laws against any form of treatment or punishment which violates human rights or fundamental freedoms. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The same principle embodied in the declaration was enforced and sustained with the adoption of the International Convention on the subject, entered into forced in 1987 by the UN Assembly. Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution specifically provides that the State values human dignity and guarantees full respect for human rights. This underscores that all persons are born with human dignity and inherent rights and that no one loses his dignity and these rights regardless of what he or she may have done. This policy of the state applies particularly to the treatment of prisoners and detainees under the correctional system they are in. Thus to ensure enforcement of this basic human rights policy, the Commission on Human Rights is mandated to “exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons and detention facilities” as stipulated in the Philippine Constitution. Hence, the Commission using both national and international standards on the treatment of prisoners and detainees and in investigating and monitoring the conditions they are in conducts on regular basis the spot checking of conditions obtaining in the various correctional institutions/ facilities in the country. This report is a consolidation of the study on the conditions of jails and correctional institutions in the country undertaken in 1992, the reports on the regular visits undertaken by the regions over the years and the special visits in national penitentiaries conducted by the national office. I. THE GENERAL STATE OF PHILIPPINE JAILS
Consistent with universal standards, the Philippine Government established its own national standards in reviewing its correctional system for prisoners/ detainees administered by the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Corrections and Bureau of Jails Management and Penology (BJMP) of the Department of Interior and Local Government. This correctional system consists of rehabilitation, and organized care and treatment program aimed at the promotion of the dignity of the confined persons in particular and the correctional community in general. Foremost, the provision of basic needs of prisoners is the prime factor to be fulfilled before any effective rehabilitation program can be committed and tackled. Though prisoners, they are still endowed with the same basic rights for human rights in common parlance are rights inherent in the nature of every individual without which he cannot live as a human being. By human standards, all accommodations provided for the use of inmates, particularly sleeping accommodations shall meet all requirements of health, with due regard to climactic conditions, particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting and ventilation. Further into the system is a comprehensive multi-disciplinary rehabilitation program aimed at the total human development of the inmates which cover education services, spiritual development, livelihood opportunity, enhancement and other welfare services inclusive of health and medical provisions. During the past years that the CHR was monitoring conditions in jails and detention centers, majority of the facilities covered by the visits were found not fit for human confinement. It was observed and described as unlikely to rehabilitate, but certain to punish. Although this situation may solicit both approval and criticism. The inspections made by CHR regional offices revealed that more than 50% of the jails covered by the visits needed a...
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