Human rights group condemn BuCor for degrading and humiliating visitors of political prisoners

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Human rights and women’s groups have strongly condemned the body cavity and strip searches conducted on the wives of political detainees by National Bilibid Prison officials. During these strip and cavity searches, the women were stripped and made to do squats several times. Under the pretext of searching for illegal drugs, they were made to bend over and their private parts were pried and probed.

One of the victims described the incident as “utter contempt for her human dignity.” While naked, a prison official made her do squat over ten times because said official told her she was not doing it right. The humiliation took place on April 21 when she visited her husband at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP).

The wives’ complaints are just the latest in many cases of similar violations of the dignity of visitors by political detainees.

The group Kapatid said it is common to strip search relatives and visitors—women and men– who are often relatives visiting political detainees. It has become the general rule to force victims to expose their private parts to prove that they are not hiding drugs, SIM cards, or other prohibited items. The Bureau of Corrections forces people to sign a “waiver” for such body/strip searches, which means the agency has institutionalized such abuse of visitors. Even food for the detainees are poked and mishandled by the guards on the pretext that they are looking for illegal drugs.

The strip and body cavity search is allowed only in cases when it is absolutely necessary and never in a routine manner as done by the BuCor, according to Kapatid. In the hands of the BuCor, it has become a tool for abuse.

“Even in the conduct of such “searches,” no prisoner and especially no visitor of such prisoners, shall be humiliated or be obliged to remove all his/her clothing during the conduct of the searches. This procedure is more serious if the victim is a woman, as this embarrassing experience is especially most traumatic for women,” he said.

“The words ‘abusive’ and ‘dehumanizing’ are not enough for the officials who implement these policies,” said Rep. France Castro of the ACT Teachers Party-list in relation to the incidents.

“The effect of all this: Wives or relatives will no longer visit, and PDLs’ contact with family and friends—which is their right—will decline or be totally severed,” according to Rep. Castro. “This is an additional punishment, and a form of harassment, in the case of political detainees who have been held captive for long years by virtue of red tagging and trumped-up charges.”

The victims filed a case with the Commission on Human Rights on May 6.

AB: Human rights group condemn BuCor for degrading and humiliating visitors of political prisoners