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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

CHR official slams ‘abuses’ in ‘Bahay Pag-asa’ youth centers

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The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday expressed disappointment on the alleged abuses in Bahay Pag-asa centers, the youth-care facilities which are supposed to provide rehabilitation and intervention to children-in-conflict with the law.

“We remind again the government to take to heart its duty to uphold the welfare of children through policies and actions that genuinely nurtures their value and potential, uphold their dignity, and help them envision a better future for themselves,” lawyer-spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement.

While Bahay Pag-asa centers are meant to reform and rehabilitate children-in-conflict with the law, there have been news on supposed abuses, mistreatment and subhuman conditions in such centers, she said.

“[It] is gravely alarming,” she added.

Shelters that are meant to reform children should be the last place that would further victimize them and cultivate negative behaviors in them, she said.

“Children-in-conflict with the law are victims of circumstances and dark elements in society that take advantage of their vulnerability,” she said.

According to De Guia, rehabilitation is crucial for the reformation of children so they could go back to their community and become productive members of society.

“Their plight must be given priority through the full, genuine, and rigorous implementation of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act,” she said.

Out of the 114 Bahay Pag-asa centers, there are only 58 operational centers, while only eight have been accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“The shortage and alleged inhuman conditions and abuses must be addressed expediently. Further, the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal liability will only worsen these existing problems,” De Guia said.

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