MANILA, Philippines – From January 2007 to March 2009, the Commission on Human Rights found 120 children aged 12 to 17 detained in 11 different police precincts nationwide.
And in separate visits to city and municipal jails along with the national penitentiary from January 2008 to March 2009, 80 more teenagers were found languishing behind bars.
In total, the CHR found 200 minors whose rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 are being violated.
Of the 120 children found detained in various police precincts, 80 of them were 17 years old, 23 were 16, 14 of them were 15, two were only 14, and one was 12 years old.
In a Human Rights Advisory released yesterday, the CHR said it “expresses alarm over the continuing detention in jails and police precincts of children in conflict with the law and the subhuman conditions in detention places that these children are subjected to.”
“The Commission implores the government to comply with its obligations under the CRC on the promotion and protection of the rights of CICL. It also urges the relevant government agencies to comply with their mandate under the JJW Act of 2006,” it added.
The CHR said it recognizes the obvious link between the continuing violation against the rights of children and the failure of several government agencies to effectively implement their mandate under the law.
It stressed that the CRC requires the detention or imprisonment of a child should “be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”
The Human Rights Advisory signed by chairperson Leila de Lima and Commissioners Cecilia Rachel Quisumbing, Ma. Victoria Cardona, Norberto de la Cruz, and Jose Manuel Mamauag, noted that in its nationwide visits on jails and police precincts, domestic practices on children’s detention continue to violate the CRC and other laws.
The CHR found that children who had been arrested were not immediately turned over to the custody of the social worker but remained under police custody beyond the required eight-hour period, which even lasts for several days even for children who are below the age of criminal responsibility.
“The Commission also found children in jails and the national penitentiary pending the trial of their cases during visits conducted from January 2008 to March 2009. Some courts are still exhibiting reluctance in ordering the release of CICL from detention despite the fact that the JJW Act of 2006 specifically prohibits the detention of a child in jail pending trial or the hearing of his or her case,” the Human Rights Advisory read. –Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star)