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​Commission files criminal charges over secret detention cell

Graphic: Bottom portion of prison cell door

The Commission has filed criminal and administrative cases before the Ombudsman against Manila Police personnel over use of a secret detention cell.

On 10 May 2017, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines filed criminal and administrative cases before the Ombudsman against Manila Police District-Raxabago Police Station 1 personnel over its secret detention cell.

The cases were brought following the discovery of the secret detention cell inside Manila Police District Station 1 during an unannounced inspection of the facility by the CHR officers on 27 April 2017. Twelve people were found locked in the cell, which was hidden behind a sliding bookshelf.

The following statement was issued by Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit at the time the cases were filed with the Ombudsman.

"It is with the utmost urgency and dispatch that the CHR now refers the matter of the secret detention of the Raxabago 12 to the Office of the Ombudsman for their appropriate action and investigation.

"We are confident that the investigation of this matter will result in the finding of probable cause to charge the Manila Police District personnel involved with violations of all relevant penal provisions under existing law, as well as their administrative liabilities for their violations of police operational procedures and international human rights standards.

"This is one of the most shocking and dehumanizing violations of the rights of detained persons in the Philippines to date, and we expect the PNP to take this matter very seriously.

"We in the CHR do agree with the PNP's objective to cleanse its ranks of scallywags and, in line with this, we urge the PNP and Director-General Ronald Dela Rosa to guarantee the safety and security of the Raxabago 12, their kin and others who will come forward with knowledge of similar abuses.

"We urge him to direct all officers in charge of investigating this case within the PNP to prevent the officers involved in accessing the victims and their families.

"We hope that the PNP will fully cooperate with the CHR and the Office of the Ombudsman in holding the erring police officers accountable for their actions and lapses that have violated their mandate and motto "to serve and protect".

"We thank all those who have come forward so far in bringing these abuses to light. We also request the media as well as responsible citizen journalists to help keep the public eye on the Raxabago 12.

"We will be continuing our own investigations on the matter and we will cooperate with the Office of the Ombudsman for the speedy resolution of this case.

Date: 10 May 2017

Source: Philippines Commission on Human Rights

Image credits

  1. Bottom portion of prison cell door - APF/Michael Power