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Banged up and butt naked: Prisoners forced to strip off during cell search



Inmates of Cebu City Jail stripped down for a cell search. Picture courtesy of the PDEA

Photos showing hundreds of prisoners stripped naked while their cells are searched for contraband have prompted fresh criticism from a human rights watchdog.

On the day that New York-based Human Rights Watch released a damning report about the war on drugs, the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) prompted further criticism by releasing photos of the search.

The pictures of the prisoners quickly went viral on social media, prompting a swift rebuke from the organisation.

A statement from the group said: “The conduct of these searches — out in the open and permitting photographs to be taken — was inhuman and degrading and violated the prisoners’ rights to privacy.”

Amnesty International agreed, saying: “This incident clearly amounts to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners.”

Inmates of Cebu City Jail stripped down for a cell search. Picture courtesy of the PDEA

The inmates of the Cebu provincial jail were woken before dawn on Tuesday, ordered to the jail’s quadrangle and told to strip while their cells were searched, prison officer Rafael Espina said.

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Photos released by the PDEA showed the inmates sitting naked and cross legged in rows, illuminated by spotlights and guarded by armed police.

A statement released by the PDEA said the raid had netted “several packets” of shabu and some marijuana leaves, along with knives and mobile phones.

PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon said the stripping of the inmates was on the order of the provincial governor and the guards. “We just provide technical expertise,” he said.

Cebu prison became world famous in 2007 due to wildly popular YouTube videos showing inmates performing choreographed dances to songs including Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Van Halen’s Jump and Queen’s Radio Gaga.