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PH gov’t maltreatment of Nasino and child violated int’l standards on prisoners, children

Manhandling of Baby River funeral further exposes tyranny of Duterte gov’t says global rights group

Press Release
October 23, 2020

QUEZON CITY – The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and its chapters condemned the Philippine government’s inhumane treatment of Filipina political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino following the death of her three-month-old Baby River. Statements from the global coalition reminded the Duterte’s government that the acts of cruelty against Nasino and her child are violations of international rules on women prisoners.

“The treatment of Reina Mae Nasino and her Baby River from the State has violated international standards of treatment of prisoners and children,” says ICHRP’s chapter in British Columbia, Canada.

Human rights advocates from all over the world send their deepest sympathy to Reina Mae Nasino who not only has been cruelly deprived of her right to care and comfort her child, but also has been deprived of her right to cradle and see her baby at the funeral one last time.

The United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women state that women prisoners should be allowed to breastfeed their children. Expert medical research studies have evidenced that breastfeeding provides protection for infants against infections, including acute and prolonged diarrhea, and long-lasting active immunity.

Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the Philippines is a State Party, declares that “The baby’s best interest shall be the primary consideration in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, administrative authorities, legislative bodies, or courts of law.”

After immense public pressure, Philippine court was prompted to grant a furlough to Reina Mae Nasino to visit her baby’s wake but with heavy security and in handcuffs.

“A legal right intended for prisoners but the Duterte government deemed it as privilege only to be given to its allies and powerful elite,” says Asia Pacific Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines spokesperson Sister Patricia Fox.

Since their separation, Baby River had fallen ill several times and on October 9th, Baby River died from acute respiratory disease at the intensive care unit of the Philippine General Hospital. According to ICHRP chapter in the United States, the Philippine government’s handling of Baby River and Reina Nasino’s case amounts to no less than torture.

“We are enraged and hold the Philippine government responsible for River’s passing. Ultimately Duterte himself is responsible given his backtracking on promises to release political prisoners and Anti-Terror Law which demonizes, imprisons and kills activists,” ICHRP-US spokesperson Drew Elizarde-Miller.

During the first three hours of “furlough” in which Nasino attended River’s wake, state forces surrounded Reina and did not remove her handcuffs except so she could briefly wipe tears from her eyes. Obstructing free speech, the jail personnel further tried to prevent Nasino from speaking with the media. During the Baby River’s burial, there were 43 heavily armed state authorities deployed and hijacked the burial procession from the family. Nasino was still unhandcuffed.

“We note the politics of selective accommodation and the blatant disregard for the principle of justice. Individuals and groups who committed crimes against the people are exempted from prosecution and accountability while the poor and those working on social justice issues are arrested and kept in jail on trumped-up charges,” says ICHRP- British Columbia.

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