The Commission on Human Rights on Sunday urged the government to equally give attention to the condition of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) and their need for COVID-19 vaccination, including the welfare of personnel managing jails and other detention facilities.

In a statement, CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia said only 474 senior citizens out of over 48,000 PDLs in seven prison facilities under the Bureau of Corrections nationwide have been inoculated against COVID-19.

She said vaccination of PDLs and prison personnel remains to be dependent on local government units where prison facilities are located.

“As the country’s independent national human rights institution, CHR stresses the importance and obligation of the government to treat all PDLs with humans with inherent dignity and rights, including their right to health,” De Guia said.

She pointed out that under the Mandela Rules of the CHR Human Rights Advisory on Protecting the Rights of PDLs during the COVID-19 Crisis, “all PDLs must enjoy health care with similar standards to those available in the community and should have access to necessary health-care services free of charge and without discrimination.”

“We caution that neglect of this duty may result in cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, which goes against the country’s commitment to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UN CAT) and its Optional Protocol (OPCAT),” she said.

Further, de Guia said the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also echoed that the government has an obligation to provide vaccines for groups that are at high risk of contagion, such as incarcerated people. —Ma. Angelica Garcia/LBG, GMA News

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