(Manila) – Philippine authorities, to stem the COVID-19 outbreak, should release from the country’s overcrowded jails and prisons inmates who have been detained or convicted for low-level and non-violent offenses, Human Rights Watch said today. They should also consider releasing older prisoners and those with underlying medical conditions who would be at greater risk if they became infected.
The Philippines has the highest jail occupancy rate in the world, exacerbated by the Duterte government’s “war on drugs,” in which hundreds of thousands of people have been jailed since July 2016. Since March 2020, the arrests and temporary detention of thousands of people for violating curfews and quarantine regulations have further crowded police lockups and jails.
“The Philippine government should urgently reduce overcrowding in detention facilities, by releasing minor offenders and prioritizing the release of older prisoners and those with underlying health conditions at particular risk from COVID-19,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “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.”
Read the whole story at the source: Philippines: Reduce Crowded Jails to Stop COVID-19 | Human Rights Watch