Prison Abuse: Joint NGOs Response to Video Leak
The signatory NGOs condemn the practice of torture and inhuman treatment in the prison system, and demand an immediate investigation into this problem by the political authorities.
The recently uncovered video material is only one specific example of wider systemic problems that exist in the prison system. These facts cannot be considered as isolated cases of torture, and could only have been carried out by organized individuals. It should also be stressed that an investigation into the systemic nature of the problem of ill-treatment in the prison system has already been discussed by the ombudsman, and been called for by various NGOs.
The problem is not just inhuman treatment in the prisons but also the broader operations of the Interior Ministry. This is highlighted by the acts of violence and detention of prisoners by police in connection with important political events, such as on May 26, 2011; June 15, 2009; June 15 and November 7, 2007.
There are still many cases of ill-treatment which have been identified, but where none of the perpetrators have been investigated or held responsible. Investigative bodies showed how a loyal attitude by officials reinforced a sense of impunity, and encouraged such practices. For example, cases of ill-treatment at the #15 Qsani facility have yet to be investigated. This has been happening for some time, and a collective statement has been issued by 700 of the prisoners. Other cases reported by the GYLA and other organizations concerning people under their protection, as well as cases mentioned in Ombudsman reports, were not properly investigated. These are just some examples of ill-treatment and ineffective investigation of the facts by the authorities.
Therefore, the government should immediately take action to thoroughly investigate and eliminate these systemic problems.
1. Investigative agencies including the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Corrections, Probation and Legal Assistance and the Prosecutor General's investigative authority are not capable of conducting this investigation in a fair and proper manner. Their passivity and ineffectiveness have been demonstrated, as well as the public mistrust felt towards them. It is necessary to ensure an impartial, independent and effective investigation. For this purpose, it will be necessary to establish a specific independent mechanism to conduct it. It is vital that this investigation should be conducted under conditions of high accountability and transparency.
2. The safety and protection of the people who leaked the footage of torture and made it public, and their family members, should be ensured during this process.
3. It is necessary to hold accountable high ranking officials, not only people outlined in the video, including the Head of the Corrections Department, Minister of Corrections, Probation and Legal Assistance, Chief Prosecutor and other persons of guilt, because these events could not have taken place without the involvement of a systematic and massive violation of human rights.
4. The Minister of Justice, Minister of the Interior, the Chief Prosecutor and officials from Ministry of Corrections, Probation and Legal Assistance should be held politically responsible.
5. An independent, impartial and effective investigation into all incidents of ill-treatment must be conducted.
6. We call on the international human rights organizations and diplomatic missions, as well as the Ombudsman, to monitor the progress of the investigation of these cases.
The Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA)
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia)
42 of the Constitution - Article
Penal Reform International
Youth for Justice
Open Society - Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
Association Green Alternative
The Charter of Journalistic Ethics
Coalition for Freedom
Association of Young Constitutionalists