De Lima denounces degrading ‘strip search’ of Cebu inmates

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima today denounced the inhuman and degrading anti-drug operation against inmates who were stripped naked as law enforcers scoured for contraband inside the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center last Feb. 28.

De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 312 seeking a Senate probe on manner by which some law enforcers and soldiers scoured the penal facility for contraband, stripping naked all of the inmates.

“The conduct of how the State handled the situation reflects not of the inmates’ humanity but our own,” she said.

“This degrading and inhuman treatment of prisoners seem reminiscent to the situation of how concentration camp captives were once treated in Nazi Germany wherein human rights were belligerently violated and trampled upon,” she added.

Last Feb. 28, a composite team of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Philippine National Police, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines conducted a surprise inspection of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center.

The composite team ordered inmates to strip naked as it scoured the facility for contraband. The anti-drug operation, known as “Greyhound” operation, led to the confiscation of 76 mobile phones, 19 medium sachets of shabu, a laptop and media players, among others.

Uncensored photos of naked inmates which were allegedly released by the PDEA and provincial police, however, were published in the news, causing uproar among human rights advocates and organizations.

The former justice secretary called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) which she once headed to bring these erring officers and their officials before the bar of justice for the inhuman treatment accorded to Cebu inmates.

“Citizens should be educated that incarceration does not strip prisoners of their human rights, and that even in detention, inmates still have the claim to be treated as members of society,” she said.

“It is the duty of the State to value the rights of all human beings, and it should not be tight-lipped upon the occurrence of human rights violations even when it was made at the pretense of achieving the greater good,” she added.

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