Strip search suspension for jail visits welcome — Labor NGO

May 11, 2024

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), an NGO that empowers workers in the formal and informal sectors of the economy to claim their labor and human rights, lauds the suspension of the New Bilibid Prison’s strip and cavity search among visitors of political prisoners in the jail facility. While we welcome the suspension, we demand a ban.

Strip and cavity searches are affront to human dignity. They are degrading, dehumanizing and violative of the right to privacy. In the context of political prisoners in the country, these searches are weaponized to prevent jail visitors and to crush the spirit of political prisoners.

The United Nations’ “Nelson Mandela Rules” or “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners” of 2015 clearly states that “Body cavity searches should be avoided and should not be applied to children.” These searches should definitely not be a routine and regular procedure.

Many of the political prisoners belong to the elderly, are victims of trumped-up charges, are not convicted of any crime and are languishing in jail because of the snail-paced movement of the country’s justice system. Strip and cavity searches among their visitors are therefore not necessary as there are no issues of public safety or criminality involved.

We therefore call on the National Bureau of Corrections to not only make the suspension of the strip and cavity searches permanent but to ban them completely. Efforts should be made to examine and evaluate such searches with a view to reducing them and to meeting human rights standards. At the very least, the country’s prisons should uphold the UN’s Nelson Mandela Rules.

At the same time, we condemn the harassment being done to Ms. Fides Lim, spokesperson of political detainee support group Kapatid, concerning the group’s petition and statement against the strip and cavity searches.

Ms. Lim was invited by BuCor Division on Intelligence and Investigation  in relation to supposed complaints from the Inmate Visiting Services Unit and the NBP Medium Security Camp. Such “invitations” immediately cause anxiety and fear among those invited as they often result in surveillence, threats and further harassment.