Philippine rights agency urges govt. to vaccinate all prisoners vs. COVID-19


The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has urged the government to vaccinate prisoners, giving attention to their health, especially with detention facilities suffering from congestion.

Only 474 senior citizens out of a total 48,000 inmates in seven prisons under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) nationwide have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of August, said CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, citing BuCor data.

“As the country’s independent national human rights institution, CHR stresses the importance and obligation of the government to treat all PDLs [persons deprived of liberty]  as humans with inherent dignity and rights, including their right to health,” de Guia said on Sunday in a statement.

The rights agency also said that “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”, citing the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.

“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),” De Guia said.

According to the CHR, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stresses that governments have an obligation to provide vaccines for groups considered as “high risk” — and this includes people under detention.

“In line with our #Vaccine4All campaign, CHR shall continue to call for greater and equitable access to vaccines, especially for weak, marginalized, and vulnerable populations, guided by human right standards,” De Guia said.

As of Aug. 29, the Philippines has recorded a total of 18,528 COVID-19 cases, with 143,221 active cases, 177,693 recoveries, and 33,109 deaths. (Source: