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Secret Cell Found in Philippines Police Station

  • VOA News

In this April 27, 2017 photo, detainees crouch on the floor inside a secret jail after being discovered by the Commission on Human Rights at Police Station 1 at Tondo district in Manila, Philippines.

Members of the Philippines' Commission on Human Rights, accompanied by journalists, have discovered a tiny, secret cell in a Manila police station that was stuffed with 12 men and women who had been detained for a week.

Gilbert Boisner, Manila director of the rights commission, said no charges had been filed against anyone in the group who had been "picked up on the pretext of drugs."

Human Rights Watch said the detainees were held "without notifying families or lawyers," were housed in "atrocious, grossly overcrowded conditions," and were tortured.

The detainees said the police were trying to extort $800 to $4,000 from them in exchange for their freedom.

Members of the group who made the surprise visit to the station told the French News Agency once inside the station they were led to the detainees late Thursday by cries of "here we are, here we are" that came from behind a wall.

HRW said in a statement the discovery of the secret cell is "just the latest sign" of how police are exploiting President Rodrigo Duterte's "abusive anti-drug campaign for personal gain."

Police said Friday the police chief of the station in the capital's Tondo district has been relieved of his duties and an investigation is under way.

HRW says that since Duterte came into office in June 2016, police and unidentified gunmen have killed more than 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers. The number, however, does not include what the president calls "collateral damage" - children killed by stray bullets.

Police said Friday the police chief of the station in the capital's Tondo district has been relieved of his duties and an investigation is under way.

HRW says that since Duterte came into office in June 2016, police and unidentified gunmen have killed more than 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers. The number, however, does not include what the president calls "collateral damage" - children killed by stray bullets.

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