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Ombudsman publishes National Prevention Mechanism Special Report

Friday, December 17
On December 15, the Public Defender of Georgia Giorgi Tugushi published a special report of the National Prevention Mechanism. It describes the results of the monitoring of penitentiary establishments and temporary detention isolators carried out over the first half of 2010 by the Department of Prevention and Monitoring of the Public Defenderís Office with the status of the National Prevention Mechanism.

The special report analyzes incidents of mistreatment, in particular, the use of excessive force at the time of detention and mistreatment in penitentiary establishments. It also describes the situation in the penitentiary establishments and the temporary detention centres under the Main Division of Human Rights Protection and Monitoring of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia in great detail.

The monitoring revealed cases of mistreatment of persons being deprived of freedom. In particular, it was determined that: cases of mistreatment of detained and imprisoned persons at the hands of employees of the penitentiary establishments and police officers still take place; cases of excessive use of force by the police at the time of detention are quite frequent.

One of the main obstacles to the prevention and elimination of mistreatment is inadequate and ineffective investigation into such events.

The Public Defender considers that the law enforcement bodies should exercise more attention and willingness when investigating the facts of mistreatment.

In the Public Defenderís opinion, the causes of the inadequate and ineffective investigation are: the formal character of investigation; delays in forensic and medical examinations or refusal to conduct the examinations; use of testimonies of the interested parties only.

The aforementioned contributes to the formation of the syndrome of impunity among the employees of the relevant law enforcement bodies. This issue is discussed by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) in its 2010 report to the Georgian government. The importance of quick and effective investigation into cases of mistreatment is also emphasized in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

On the positive side, it should be noted that, unlike the police and penitentiary establishments, there are almost no cases of mistreatment in temporary detention centres, though notifications about injuries of persons placed in these centres are only sent if the detainee himself expresses a complaint against the police.

The report also thoroughly describes the conditions of imprisonment in the penitentiary establishments, the issues of admission and placement of prisoners, the problem of overcrowding, the conditions of resocialization and education, the problems with the functioning of the Social Service, the conditions of employment of prisoners and their communication with the outside world, and the regulations of the regime, discipline, and punishment. The report also devotes much attention to the legislative changes caused by the entering into force of the new Code of Imprisonment. Despite the fact that the development and entering into force of the Code of Imprisonment is a step forward in itself, there are issues where the legislation still requires further improvement.

In relation to each of the concrete issues, the Public Defender has submitted corresponding recommendations to the government of Georgia, the Ministry of Corrections, Probation and Legal Assistance, the Department of Prisons, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor Generalís Office. He has also submitted a proposal to the Georgian Parliament.