UN rights experts urge Philippines to deal with prison overcrowding

UN rights experts urge Philippines to deal with prison overcrowding

The UN torture prevention body on Wednesday urged the Philippines to tackle urgent prison overcrowding [press release] issues and improve independent monitoring of detention facilities. During a visit by the six-member delegation, the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) [official website] presented its confidential preliminary observations to the Filipino authorities. Their goal is to protect people deprived of their liberty against torture and cruel treatment. The SPT is also trying to persuade the Philippines to enact a law that would establish an effective national independent monitoring body, known as a national preventive mechanism (NPM). While the experts were visiting the Philippines, they visited police stations, pre-trial facilities, prisons, a juvenile rehabilitation centre, correctional institute for women and a psychiatric hospital. Members of the delegation interviewed staff members and met with relevant government authorities. Following the visit, the SPT will submit a report to the government containing its observations and recommendations on prevention of torture and ill-treatment of persons.

In April the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] announced that prison overcrowding has reached “epidemic proportions” [JURIST report] worldwide. In July the French Senate adopted a measure [JURIST report] in an attempt to reduce prison overcrowding. In August 2013 the Italian Senate approved a measure [JURIST report] to ease some of the worst prison overcrowding in Europe by cutting pre-trial detentions and using alternative punishments for minor offenses. The move came after the European Court of Human Rights ordered Italy to address the problem [JURIST report] within a year. In August 2012 the Colombian Ministry of Justice announced a new initiative [JURIST report] to solve the problem of overcrowding in the nation’s prisons. In June 2012 UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang urged the government of Malawi [JURIST report] to address the problem of prison overcrowding and improve the human rights condition in the country. In April 2012 South Africa announced that it would issue pardons [JURIST report] to 35,000 offenders in order to ease prison overcrowding.