Human rights groups warn of "catastrophic" impact if COVID-19 affects jails in PH; recommend early release of some prisoners

Human rights activists are calling for the early release of some prisoners in the Philippines, including low-level offenders, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions.
In a report by Rappler, human rights groups and many other individuals fear the safety of prisoners as they believe it is only a matter of time before coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reaches the jail cells.
“Failure to act now could result in a serious outbreak in the country’s jails and prisons, threatening the lives of prisoners whose health the authorities have a duty to protect,” Rappler quoted Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson as saying.
He added that the government must act fast to stop it from spreading in prison, especially since the Philippines is marred with concerns related to its massive congestion and high mortality rate. The director said authorities must plan ahead by undertaking early releases, and make sure the prison system is prepared to combat the virus.
In a letter sent to government agencies, Fatima Lim, the spokesperson of KAPATID—a group comprising families of political prisoners—reiterated that government should not wait before the virus brings catastrophic impact on the inmates.
“Given the high congestion and mortality rates of the prison system, should the national government wait before the deadly COVID-19 unleashes even more catastrophic consequences inside Philippine jails?” her letter stated.
However, government officials claim the prisoners are safer inside, noting that preventive measures are already in place against the disease.
Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said the prison is “the safest place right now” for prisoners, and that they “will be more vulnerable and exposed to the virus if they are released at this time.”

Staff Report

The Filipino Times is the chronicler of stories for, of and by Filipinos all over the world, reaching more than 236 countries in readership. Any interesting story to share? Email us at [email protected]

Related Articles

Back to top button