Kerry B. Collison Asia News
Thursday, August 4, 2016
If you commit an offence this is what Jail in the Philippines is like - 'purgatory'
Inmates peek out of their crowded cell inside the Quezon City Jail in the Philippines
AFP photographs of the Quezon City Jail, where thousands of inmates are forced to sleep on stairs or on cracked cement floors in unimaginable squalor, highlighted the crisis which is worsening under President Rodrigo Duterte's war on crime.
"It's an image straight out of Dante's 'Purgatory'," Human Rights Watch said, referring to the 13th century Italian writer's description of the realm where souls await judgement.
"Hundreds of half-naked men sprawled on the pavement in the sweltering heat, desperately trying to sleep amid the cramped chaos... It's an actual snapshot of horrific overcrowding in the Philippines’ jails."
The situation at Quezon City Jail is by no means isolated, the New York-based group added, with many other Filipino jails also failing to meet minimum United Nations standards for nutrition and sanitation.
Duterte was elected by a landslide in May, largely on a pledge to clean up the streets by killing tens of thousands of criminals. Police say 402 drug suspects have been gunned down in the past month.
Thousands more have been detained, doomed for lengthy stints in underfunded and overwhelmed jails.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology told AFP that 8.0 billion pesos ($170 million) was needed to relieve the situation at prisons holding nearly five times their intended capacity.
Even before Duterte's election, the Philippines penal system was ranked as the third most congested in the world, according to the University of London's Institute for Criminal Policy Research.
There are 3,950 inmates at the Quezon City Jail, which was built six decades ago to house 800, and they are forced to engage in a relentless contest for space.
Men take turns to sleep on the cracked cement floor of an open-air basketball court, the steps of staircases, underneath beds and in hammocks made out of old blankets.
Even then, bodies are packed like sardines in a can, with inmates unable to fully stretch out.
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