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Manila jail squeeze amid war on drugs

These inmates of Quezon City Jail in Manila, Philippines, are certainly in a tight spot, and not only because they are behind bars.

The prison is so overcrowded that the men sleep in halls and stairwells and share each toilet with 150 other prisoners.

Most of them are there for drug offences, following President Rodrigo Duterte's tough anti-narcotics campaign, which has seen thousands arrested or killed.

Quezon City Jail, which was built in 1953 to hold 800 inmates, is now home to over 3,400 - far too many for its cell area, which is roughly equivalent to three basketball courts. In mid-August, as Mr Duterte's war on drugs intensified, the population briefly topped 4,000 until the jail insisted that detainees be sent elsewhere.

Despite the horrid conditions, some are glad to be there because they feel it is safer than being out in the streets, where they might be shot at if suspected of drug dealing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Manila jail squeeze amid war on drugs'. Print Edition | Subscribe