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Nation

Decongest jails, CHR urges BJMP

Janvic Mateo, Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Saturday urged the government to speed up efforts to decongest jails.

While there has been a slight improvement in jail congestion rate, CHR executive director Jacqueline de Guia said congestion of facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) remains a continuing challenge that affects the living conditions of inmates.

BJMP spokesman Xavier Solda reported a decrease in jail congestion rate from 438 percent in 2019 to 397 percent last July.

“These conditions fall short in complying with the BJMP’s own manual on habitat, water, sanitation and kitchen in jails as well as the United Nations’ standard minimum rules for treatment of prisoners,” De Guia said.

“We emphasize the need for the government to expedite decongestion in jails through penal reforms, including non-custodial alternatives to detention for minor cases, immediate release of qualified detainees and building of new facilities,” she added.

In its 2021 report, the Commission on Audit (COA) reminded the BJMP to address the high jail congestion rate of 254 percent as of Dec. 31 last year.

The COA noted that of 474 jails nationwide, 71 percent or 337 were overcrowded, in violation of the BJMP’s own manual, which states that the ideal habitable floor for each inmate is 4.7 square meters and the maximum number of prisoners should be 10 only.

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