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'Demo' woman's strip search cruel, degrading - rights group.

A rights group on Friday condemned the 'dehumanizing' strip search of alleged female drug suspects by Makati City cops.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay called the move, which was caught on a video, an 'act of cruel and degrading treatment of a person arrested and/or detained.'

The video clips, aired by ABS-CBN, showed police officers laughing and smiling during a strip search involving a naked woman, who was ordered to bend. The search reportedly happened at the Makati police headquarters sometime in March 2017.

'It is lamentable and infuriating that strip search is considered as 'standard operating procedure' by the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. This practice should have been deemed illegal with the passage of the Anti-Torture Law in 2009,' Palabay said.

The Anti-Torture Act of 2009 ensures that the human rights of persons, including suspects, detainees and prisoners are respected at all times.

The law also mandates that 'no person placed under investigation or held in custody of any person in authority or, agent of a person authority shall be subjected to physical, psychological or mental harm, force, violence, threat or intimidation or any act that impairs his/her free will or in any manner demeans or degrades human dignity.'

READ: Woman's strip search by laughing cops an 'abuse of authority' - Gabriela

Palabay also said the cops involved should be meted out with punishment under the Anti-Torture law and their superiors should be investigated as well to determine their accountability.

'Torture is a grave and heinous crime. We demand justice for the victims of torture and the end to the practice and policy of strip searches,' she said.

PNP chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde ordered the relief of Senior Inspector Valmark Funelas, Police Officer 1 Stephanie Limhap, PO1 Heizelle Maramag and PO1 Francis Intia while the probe into the incident is still ongoing.

In a radio interview with dzMM, Makati City Police chief Rogelio Simon said he was told that the procedure was a demonstration of a strip search. He said he was informed that the alleged female drug suspect consented to the procedure for monetary consideration.

Simon added that strip search is commonly being conducted to allay suspicion that illegal drugs are concealed by the suspects.

In May last year, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas also conducted strip searches of prisoners in jail fail facilities. The procedure also earned criticisms after photos of the naked inmates circulated online.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Jul 6, 2018
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