Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the alleged strip search of political prisoners’ wives at the New Bilibid Prison



The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses grave concern over the reported cases of strip searches of political prisoners’ wives and other visitors of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). The CHR has launched its own investigation, led by the Investigation Office and the Prevention Cluster, to look into the case and take appropriate action.

The group KAPATID issued a statement outlining three different complaints about strip searches among PDL visitors. The description of “humiliating, degrading, and traumatic” brought by these strip searches experienced by victims was emphasised.

It should be noted that on 19 January 2023, the CHR issued a similar statement concerning the alleged strip search of PDL visitors at Metro Manila District Jail Annex 4. CHR affirms that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s (BJMP) search guidelines should not be applied arbitrarily and that searches should not be directed at the families of political prisoners.

With these continuing acts of concerned security officers, we reiterate Rules 51 and 52(1) of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, or the Mandela Rules, which state that security searches “shall not be used to harass, intimidate, or unnecessarily intrude upon a prisoner’s privacy” and that “intrusive searches shall be conducted in private and by trained staff of the same sex as the prisoner.”

Furthermore, we urge the NBP administration, BJMP, the Bureau of Corrections (BoC), and other relevant agencies to take cognisance of the situation. It is critical for these security personnel to strictly enforce their own guidelines when conducting body searches on jail visitors, particularly to ensure that such searches are reasonable and carried out with the utmost respect for human dignity.

While we recognise the importance of maximum security inspection to ensure the safety and security of correctional facilities, it is vital that these security measures do not jeopardise visitors’ fundamental human rights. Inspections must be conducted in a way that respects the dignity, privacy, and rights of all individuals involved

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