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Ombudsman publishes a report regarding situations of prisons in the Imereti region

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, December 23
The Georgian Public Defender issued a report on Wednesday stating the results of a monitoring mission carried out by the Special Preventive Group which observed the penitentiary establishments in Western Georgia. The group visited all three establishments in the region: establishment # 2 in Kutaisi, # 14 in Geguti and # 13 in Khoni. The report says that prisoners in all three prisons pointed out that “in comparison with the previous years, the situation in terms of treatment has significantly improved.”

“At the time of the monitoring, the Geguti Establishment #14 housed 2,678 convicts. From conversations with the prisoners, it was found out that employees no longer treat them provocatively and degradingly, and convicts are no longer punished without a cause. At the time of the monitoring, none of the convicts were placed in solitary cells (punishment cells),” the ombudsman’s report reads.

At the same time, the Public Defender stressed the existing problems in Geguti prison. The report says that due to the current nutrition schedule, the convicts are only able to spend about four hours a day in the open air. “The Public Defender has given a recommendation to remedy the aforementioned restriction more than once, so that prisoners are given the opportunity to spend more time in the open air,” the report says.

According to the ombudsman, due to “obsolete” infrastructure the housing conditions in Khoni Establishment # 13 are “harsh”. “The Public Defender has noted in more than one of his reports that the Khoni Establishment is completely amortized and that it is impossible to repair, because of this, the establishment should be abolished,” the report reads. The document points out that for both the Geguti and Khoni establishments, poor access to roads “pose a serious problem.” “The road cover is so bad that when a seriously ill person is transported, his/her life comes under an additional threat,” it reads.

In all three establishments the prisoners expressed discontent in terms of exercise and the right to use the phone, according to the Public Defender’s report. “...with the new card introduced in the system, it is only possible to make calls to two numbers, after which the card gets blocked regardless of whether the prisoner has exhausted the 15-minute limit determined by law or not, and it is only possible to use it again in the following month. Because of this, the prisoners have to purchase several cards to fully use the time determined by law,” the document points out.

No prisoners in any of the monitored prisons have expressed complaints about the availability of a doctor, the Ombudsman noted. According to the members of the Special Preventive Group, the physician-consultants in western Georgia pay “systematic visits” to the penitentiary establishments located in Imereti. “In this regard, the visits of the psychiatrist, the neuropathologist, and the dermatovenerologist are especially frequent. For instance, specialists of the same specialization pay visits to the penitentiary establishments of eastern Georgia once a month or less frequently (there are establishments where not a single visit has been documented as a result of monitoring), while they visit the penitentiary establishments of Imereti on a weekly basis,” the report states.

Civil Movement Solidarity to Unlawful Prisoners has agreed with the Ombudsman about improving the conditions of prisoners in Geguti jail. “We have not received any notifications from the prisoners from the Geguti establishment about bad treatment from the administration lately,” Lado Macharashvili, the lawyer of the civil movement noted “...the prisoners confirm in private conversations as well, that the staff of the prison are acting in accordance to the standards and the chief of Geguti Prison is being humane. At the same time the living conditions in Geguti Prison still remains poor. The building is dilapidated and water is still leaking from the walls,” he noted.