On the reported police strip search demo on a female drug suspect in Makati

Karapatan deplores the dehumanizing strip search of a female drug suspect in a police station in Makati City as an act of cruel and degrading treatment of a person arrested and/or detained. Police personnel who were involved in the said act should be meted out with punishment under the Anti-Torture Law, while their superiors should be investigated as well to look into their accountability, considering the principle of command responsibility under the said law.    

The said incident is not an isolated case. In May 2017, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7)  conducted strip searches of prisoners during Greyhound operations in jail facilities in the region. Recently, relatives of political prisoners aired out complaints on the cases of strip searches on visitors of detainees in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.  

Despite these previous incidents, the practice continues. It is lamentable and infuriating that strip search is considered as “standard operating procedure” by the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). This practice should have been deemed illegal with the passage of the Anti-Torture Law in 2009. However, in the minds of authorities on a power-trip high, such acts are justifiable as they continue to set it out in their guidelines and manual of operations.

These policies and acts though are not surprising. While an anti-torture law has been enacted in the Philippines since 2009, torture and other forms of inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment are still prevalent practices of State forces. Under the Benigno S. Aquino III administration, Karapatan documented 248 victims of torture. In the two years of the Duterte regime, we have documented 94 victims of torture. Some of them were burned alive and left for dead, while many were treated as punching bags of soldiers and police personnel.

Torture is a grave and heinous crime. We demand justice for the victims of torture and the end to the practice and policy of strip searches. We commend the media for reporting on and exposing these cruel practices. We call on the Filipino people to continue to be vigilant and to uphold and defend our rights.

For reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 09173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580