Prison Abuse: Joint NGOs Response to President's Actions - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Prison Abuse: Joint NGOs Response to President's Actions

20 September, 2012

 We would like to respond to the statement made by the President of Georgia on September 19, regarding the video evidence of torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners in Georgian penitentiary institutions. According to the president’s statement, several individuals personally involved in the maltreatment of prisoners must be severely punished, and special measures must be taken to improve the situation in the penitentiary system of Georgia. Among other measures, the president mentioned allowing patrol police to enter prisons in order to control the situation. 

We believe that the measures mentioned by the president are insufficient, and are not proportional to the terrible and systematic violations of human rights that have been witnessed by Georgian society during recent days. The issue of the political liability of certain senior officials, whose names have repeatedly been mentioned in connection to numerous cases of detainees being tortured in Georgian prisons, has so far not been raised. The president failed to mention this matter. In addition, the investigatory body has demonstrated no interest in the issue of the culpability of those officials who were personally involved in the acts of torture, or who had knowledge that such incidents were taking place in the prisons and neglected their duty to prevent them, leaving these terrible events to unfold.

Furthermore, according to the president’s statement, temporary supervision of the penitentiary system was assigned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The head of this ministry has been consistently named as the person who directly contributed to the introduction of inhuman treatment and violations of human rights in Georgian prisons. This fact is also corroborated by reports of the Office of Public Defender of Georgia.

First of all, we demand that the Government handle the current situation responsibly and take adequate and proportional measures. It is necessary that the question of the political liability of the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Justice Minister and the Procurator General be included in the agenda, and they should not be allowed to influence the investigation. Otherwise, the investigation undertaken by the government will not enjoy public trust or confidence.

In addition to this, we continue to request that:

  • The investigatory body should look into the question of the culpability of additional people to those already seized, including the Minister of Correction and Legal Assistance and the head of the Penitentiary Department, since it is impossible that they were unaware of a crime of such systematic nature.

  • The security of those people who disclosed the evidence of torture and provided the videos documenting these incidents to the media, and their family members, should be ensured.

  • The independent, impartial and effective investigation of all other evidence of the maltreatment of prisoners that has been reported during recent years should be undertaken. Such an investigation must be based on the principles of accountability and transparency to ensure public trust.

  • Alternative means of monitoring penitentiary institutions should be introduced.