Oct 032014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/04/06MANILA1595.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1595 2006-04-10 06:45 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO7439
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1595/01 1000645
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100645Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0453
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001595

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, DRL/CRA
USAID FOR C.DOWNEY

E.O 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI EAID RP
SUBJECT: NEW LEGISLATION ON CHILD PRISONERS

REF: A) MANILA 1075
B) 05 MANILA 2555

¶1. (U) Summary: Both houses of Congress have now approved
the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006,” aimed at
curbing the problem of child prisoners by moving minors out
of the adult criminal justice system and building more youth
detention facilities. President Arroyo is slated to sign
the bill into law shortly. The GRP has pledged to provide
needed resources, but NGOs and others have predicted that
implementation will be spotty. Mission will continue to
seek additional ways to assist the GRP in tackling the child
labor problem, following an S/CT-funded seminar on best
prison management practices in late April. End Summary.

—————
Passage of Bill
—————

¶2. (U) In late March after a bicameral committee
conference, both the House of Representatives and the Senate
approved the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.
After international media coverage of the problem of child
prisoners in the Philippines last year (reftels), President
Arroyo and legislators placed the bill, which had been
pending since 1999, on the fast track for passage in
September 2005. President Arroyo is expected to sign the
measure into law soon.

¶3. (U) The bill’s key provisions include:

— exemption of children 15 years of age or below from
criminal liability. A child between 15 and 18 years old can
face criminal charges only with proof that he or she
committed actions with the full knowledge that they were
criminal in nature. These provisions replace the current
law, under which minors as young as nine years face criminal
charges. The bill’s provisions will apply retroactively;
officials must review the cases of minors now in the penal
system and make humane adjustments;

— newly created “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Councils,”
chaired by representatives of the Department of Social
Welfare and Development (DSWD), will evaluate all minors in
trouble with the law. Most will likely end up in “diversion
programs” supervised by a local social welfare officer.
These programs include counseling and attendance in training
and seminars, as well as participation in community service
and educational programs. If the infraction was subject to
punishment of no more than six years of imprisonment, the
Councils may decide on the “diversion program” without court
proceedings; and,

— prohibition of the detention of minors in adult jails
while undergoing trial. For more serious offenses,
detention can be in special youth facilities, DSWD centers,
or NGO-managed rehabilitation centers. The national
government and local government units must under this new
law set aside enough resources to establish an adequate
number of youth detention facilities. The law mandates that
the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (a GRP entity)
allocate an initial amount of 50 million pesos (roughly one
million dollars) to help fund implementation.

—————————-
Dealing with Child Prisoners
—————————-

¶4. (U) The GRP and NGOs hope that the Juvenile Justice and
Welfare Act will rationalize the treatment of minors and
ensure that they do not ever again face imprisonment or
detention in adult jails. According to official and NGO
sources, over 1,500 minors are among the general adult
prisoner population nationwide. Observers note that the
real number could be far larger, given lack of information
about what happens at jails in rural areas. Of the more
than 1,100 jails under the management of the Bureau of Jail
Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Philippine National
Police, only 20 percent have separate cells for minors. In
March 2006, the Department of Interior and Local Government
ordered the BJMP to transfer 520 child prisoners to four
youth detention facilities in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao.

—————————–
Concerns about Implementation
—————————–

¶5. (U) NGOs and others advocating for the reform of the

MANILA 00001595 002 OF 002

juvenile justice system have predicted difficulties in the
implementation of the bill, as with other worthwhile
legislation on the book. According to one NGO worker, there
are simply not enough youth detention facilities in place as
of yet to handle “the exodus” of child prisoners out of
adult jails. Additionally, there are not enough social
workers to supervise these new programs. Even pro-child
advocate Senator Pia Cayetano has privately expressed
concern over the lack of resources available for placing
minors in youth detention facilities and in other programs,
although she said she highly appreciated Malacanang’s recent
efforts to achieve passage of the bill.

———–
USG Efforts
———–

¶6. (U) Through a planned project with The Asia Foundation
(TAF), Mission stands ready to assist with implementation of
the bill. USAID is also helping fund TAF’s Jail
Decongestion Project that helps the GRP deal more adequately
with inmates of all ages.

¶7. (U) Mission’s Law Enforcement Working Group (LEWG) is
also focused on this area. With funding from S/CT, Mission
has organized a prison management “best practices” seminar
April 24-28 to examine a wide range of issues, including
treatment of juvenile prisoners. The LEWG is also
investigating how additionally to assist with training for
employees at youth detention and other juvenile facilities,
as well as whether the USG could assist in building a youth
detention facility in Mindanao.
KENNEY

   

 

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