Statement of the Commission on Human Rights in support of the proposed measure seeking to ensure the safety of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) inside jail facilities

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights in support of the proposed measure seeking to ensure the safety of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) inside jail facilities

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses its strong support for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) No. 2031 or the “Jails and Prisons Monitoring Act of 2023,” which seeks to ensure the safety and security of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) while serving their sentence.

Filed by Senator Raffy Tulfo, SB 2031 “seeks to promote the safety and security of inmates and prison personnel by providing an additional layer of security inside prison cells” through security monitoring systems, composed of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, motion sensors, and other relevant equipment to ensure the safety and security of inmates and prison personnel alike. [1]

CHR stresses that preserving the human rights and dignity of all persons, including PDLs, is a fundamental human rights guarantee.

It may be recalled that the Philippines has obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), and has since enacted Republic Act No. 9745 or “An Act Penalizing Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment” in 2009 to clearly articulate the State’s policy of respecting the dignity and guaranteeing the rights of PDLs.

The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also know as Nelson Mandela Rules, further provides that the “safety and security of prisoners, staff, and service providers and visitors shall be ensured at all times” and that “[n]o prisoner shall be subjected to, all prisoners shall be protected from, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, for which no circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as a justification.” [2]

SB 2031 reiterates these human rights commitments by the State by improving transparency in jails and places of detention, as well as improving the pursuit of accountability of duty-bearer in cases of human rights violations.

At the same time, SB 2031 should also be viewed as an additional protection for the welfare of prison personnel, as well as guide for the prison administration to make sound and better human rights-based policies, in line with a previous CHR advisory on uplifting the welfare and dignity of security personnel. [3]

In the larger view, CHR, in fulfillment of our advisory mandate under the Constitution, also continues to urge the government to pass into law the creation of the country’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM)—another obligation of the Philippines under OPCAT.

The said NPM is envisioned to carry out the important role of preventing torture, initiating reforms, and upholding domestic and international standards relating to PDLs and jails and places of detention. [4] More importantly, a dedicated NPM will similarly allow the government to give better meaning to its human rights obligations because the mandate’s character is preventive, that is, to decrease acts of torture and ill-treatment by regular visits, promoting institutional reform, and good practices for the management of jails and other places of detention.

CHR looks forward to working with Senator Tulfo in realising this advocacy. And, to this end, CHR continues to pursue areas of collaboration with relevant government agencies, such as the Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Philippine National Police among others, as complement to our own Constitutional mandate on jail visitation and services relating to the prevention of human rights violations in places of detention.


[1] Senate Bill No. 2031, https://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/4128237609!.pdf

[2] UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also know as Nelson Mandela Rules, https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/Nelson_Mandela_Rules-E-ebook.pdf

[3] CHR Human Rights Advisory (CHR A2015-006) on the Lack of Standard Police Stations & Lock Up Cells in Some Municipalities/Cities, https://chr2bucket.storage.googleapis.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/08174731/CHR-A2015-006-RO-IV-ADVISORY-LOCK-UP-CELLS.pdf

[4] The Role of National Preventive Mechanisms, https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Publications/NPM_Guide_EN.pdf