The following letter was written to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the Philippines with the hope to end illegal detention of children by the police. We request your help in strenthening this campaign and spreading the word regarding this on-going violation of child rights.
April 21, 2003
DR. PURIFICACION QUISUMBING
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Diliman, Quezon City
Re: ILLEGAL PRACTICE OF POLICE CHILD DETENTION
Dear Dr. Quisumbing:
We write to appeal to the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the illegal detention of children in conflict with the law in police jails nationwide and then to issue an official statement condemning this institutionalized form of human rights violation.
Contrary to the mandate of our law, law enforcers and other agents of persons in authority detain children in police jails, instead of immediately turning them over to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Police child detention undermines our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Worse, this insidious practice makes our children highly vulnerable to the violation of Republic Act No. 7438 known as the Custodial Investigation Act. This is so since during the period of their incarceration in police jails, children are actually deprived of direct and immediate access to legal assistance as well as health and social services. There is even no budgetary allotment for their food and medicine to keep their souls and bodies together in police jails.
This is aggravated by the fact that virtually all of our children held in custody of the law are poor and unlettered.
The period of their stay in jail prior to their turnover to city or municipal jails, or in some instances, to local rehabilitation centers which ranges from one week to one month particularly in Quezon City prevents medical doctors from
detecting signs of torture and maltreatment perpetrated against them upon arrest and/or during their police detention. This is alarming since this exposes our lack of an effective grassroots mechanism to safeguard and protect the human rights of child prisoners at this crucial stage of their arrest and detention in the hands of the police.
The detention of children in conflict with the law in cramped police jails together with adults constitutes one of the vicious forms of abuse and cruelty being committed against children all over the country. This is proscribed as a criminal act under Republic Act 7610 (Special Child Protection Act).
The illegal practice of police child detention violates the constitutional right to due process of law of children. This also constitutes a cruel, inhumane, and unjust form of treatment and punishment perpetrated without any form of redress or indemnity on the part of and in favor of the child victims, much less any accountability on the part of the perpetrators.
This also renders nugatory the human rights of children sought to be protected under the 1987 Constitution, the Family Courts Act of 1997 (RA 8369), the Rules and Regulations on the Apprehension, Investigation, Prosecution and Rehabilitation of Youth Offenders, the Child and Youth Welfare Code (Presidential Decree 603), and the 2002 Rule on Juveniles in Conflict with the
We are sure that being a staunch child rights advocate yourself, you would never allow this human rights abuse to be committed against our voiceless children prisoners.
We respectfully beseech your good office to form a fact-finding team to prove this institutionalized police practice as well as the concomitant human rights abuses committed against children prisoners and then to issue a statement condemning this human rights violation.
We believe that through your official action, human rights in our country would be further strengthened and fortified.
Please accept our best wishes and warm regards.
Thank you very much.
Posted on 2003-04-30