CHR discusses rehabilitation and reintegration initiatives for women deprived of liberty to Asia-Pacific women judges

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The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), represented by Commissioner Faydah Maniri Dumarpa, took part in the 2024 Asia and the Pacific Regional Conference of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) and the 2024 National Convention of the Philippine Women Judges Association (PWJA) on 08 to 10 May 2024.

With the theme “Women Lead: Transforming Asia-Pacific and Changing the World,” women judges all over the Asia-Pacific Region gathered to highlight their important role in shaping the judiciary and upholding the rule of law.

In the conference, Commissioner Dumarpa discussed the current conditions of Philippine prisons and how it affects the situation of women deprived of liberty. During her panel talk, titled “Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration of Women Prisoners and Offenders, and Alternatives to Imprisonment for Women Offenders,” she also delved into the relevant international standards aimed at protecting the rights of women in detention.

“While efforts are being undertaken to address congestion and human rights issues of women deprived of liberty, the facts indicate that many detainees, most especially women detainees, are currently living in conditions below international human rights standards,” according to Commissioner Dumarpa.

She also highlighted recommendations on the said matter based on the core mandates of CHR. As part of the Commission’s Protection mandate, Commissioner Dumarpa stressed the need to attend to the gender, age, and disability specific needs of women in detention as part of State efforts in recognising women’s vulnerabilities especially within the context of gender-based violence. Such will then be supported under the Promotion mandate, where there is a need to prioritise providing relevant, mandatory, recurrent, and effective trauma-informed and victim- and survivor-centred training on preventing all forms of violence against women in detention.

Commissioner Dumarpa also linked her recommendations to CHR’s Prevention and Policy mandates, calling for adequately resourced independent monitoring bodies to monitor the treatment and rights of women in detention and the need to review and repeal policies which disproportionately target or criminalise the actions of women.

“I believe many of us who are working in the field of human rights, justice, and the rule of law are in privileged positions to make these recommendations a reality. We have with us the power to realise a life of dignity and integrity for women deprived of liberty,” she said.

It must be noted that the CHR has consistently advocated for the implementation of the Bangkok Rules in the country, which specifically addresses women’s specific needs and vulnerabilities in detention, through its monitoring reports. The CHR also partners with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in conducting capacity-building relevant to the adoption of the Bangkok Rules.

The Commission has also previously partnered with the United Nations Population Fund to conduct capacity-building initiatives with female wardens on the sexual and reproductive rights of women in detention.

The three-day event spearheaded by the IAWJ and PWJA focused on enhancing access to justice, especially to the vulnerable, marginalised, and disadvantaged sectors. Various talks led by women as representatives of the judiciary also covered topics such as the role of women judges in armed conflict, technical assistance, use of gender-fair language in the field, and impact of the climate crisis on women and children.

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