A cramped hidden cell with about a dozen inmates held allegedly on illegal drug charges was discovered behind a bookshelf in a police station in the Philippines, the Commission on Human Rights said today.
The secret cell was found during a raid on the police station in the slum district of Tondo in the capital city of Manila yesterday, said Diana De Leon, a lawyer with the commission's investigation unit.
"The secret detention cell was small with 12 detainees inside, three women and nine men, allegedly held on drug cases," she said.
"There was no light and the condition was inhumane."
"Most of the detainees alleged that they were beaten and tortured," she added.
The detainees have been in the cell for one week without being processed for the charges against them, according to Gilbert Boisner, a regional director of the human rights commission.
"I was shocked," he said, adding that the inmates alleged that police were demanding between US$800 and US$4,000 for them to be released.
The discovery of the secret jail "is just the latest sign of how police are exploiting (President Rodrigo) Duterte’s abusive anti-drug campaign for personal gain," said New York-based group Human Rights Watch, which investigates alleged abuses worldwide.
"Expect unlawful police abuses in the name of Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ to continue until the United Nations establishes an urgently needed independent, international investigation into the killings - and the secret jails that are part of it," the group said in a statement.