International group calls PH jail a ‘purgatory’

  • An international organization called on Philippine authorities to address the problems experienced in jails nationwide
  • Human Rights Watch called each prison cell in the country a “purgatory” in reference to a literary work
  • The group related the problem to the government’s ongoing war against illegal drugs

An international non-governmental organization (NGO) has called on Philippine government authorities to address the worsening situations experienced in jails nationwide; calling each prison cell a “purgatory,” in reference to the second part of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

In an article published by Coconuts Manila on August 5, 2016, it was disclosed that Human Rights Watch (HRW) reacted on the photos released by Agence France-Presse that showed “hellish conditions” in Philippine jails, where thousands of inmates are forced to sleep not on only cracked cement floors, but also on stairways.

“It’s an image straight out of Dante’s ‘Purgatory’: hundreds of half-naked men sprawled on the pavement in the sweltering heat, desperately trying to sleep amid the cramped chaos. But this is no etching of a medieval horror scene. It’s an actual snapshot of horrific overcrowding in the Philippines’ jails and detention centers fueled by the government’s war on drugs,” said Carlos Conde, Asia division researcher of HRW.

According to police reports, over 125,000 persons have already surrendered themselves to authorities after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte started an all-out cleansing operation against illegal drugs.

However, the Philippine National Police (PNP) clarified that while not all those who turn themselves in face detention, the large numbers still pose a great concern regarding the capacity of correctional facilities.

“These conditions are worsening the humanitarian crisis inside Philippine jails, which are already plagued by serious sanitation and health problems, including rampant tuberculosis,” Conde said; adding that the government’s facilities fail to meet the minimum standards set by the United Nations.