Statement of CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, welcoming the no-contact Christmas jail visitations

Statement of CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, welcoming the no-contact Christmas jail visitations

The Commission on Human Rights welcomes the recent announcement from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on the preparations they have undertaken for the resumption of the granular opening of the “no contact visitations” among Person Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) this Christmas season. Under the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, prisoners shall be allowed contacts or visitations under necessary supervision.

Since the start of the pandemic, visitations and communications of PDLs with their loved ones and family members have been limited to electronic dalaw (e-Dalaw) or electronic visitations using computers. Thus, the movement towards the resumption of physical visits as we approach the holiday season is a welcome action in the humane treatment of prisoners. Providing PDLs the opportunity to see their loved ones, with due compliance to health protocols and safety measures, is beneficial to their mental health and general well-being.

As the lead agency in the Interim National Preventive Mechanism, the Commission consistently supports actions that will help improve the well-being and situation of PDLs. The resumption of physical visits and the continued use of the e-Dalaw system are laudable actions of the BJMP in ensuring that persons deprived of liberty are not deprived of the essential need for human connection and communication.

Currently, some BJMP facilities in Cebu, Cordillera, and Metro Manila have already began the pilot run for the non-contact visitation while other facilities await the approval of their respective regional director pending the completion of facility requirements. CHR hopes that this policy will be implemented sooner in more low-risk areas to allow PDLs and their families to have a meaningful holiday season.