The messenger logo

Protests for Prisoners’ rights

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, February 15
Independent journalists and NGOs protested in front of the Ministry of Correction and Legal Assistance yesterday. The organisations unfortunately failed in asking the Ministry for permission to monitor activities at prisons. Worrying about the continually increasing number of prisoners in our country, the initiators of the rally said they can’t accept the trend. Protesting in front of the Ministry with banners displaying their demands, Eka Beselia the leader of movement Solidarity with Illegal Prisoners encouraged Minister Khatuna Kalmakhelidze to become familiar with humanitarian ethics.

Not having received an answer from the Ministry, Irma Inashvili, one of the rally’s organisers from the media union said the activists would continue to protect their rights. Discouraging Kalmakhelidze’s “non-argumented activities” journalists and NGOs wondered why the Minister refused to meet with journalists. “We wonder why she doesn’t want us to see the real results of the reforms which they are so proud of…” was said in a media address.

Demonstrating the cruelty of the penitentiary system, participants of the rally dressed like executioners and imitated prison employees who beat the prisoners. Advising Kalmakhelidze to use the Ten Commandments, NGOs posted the sacred writing on the walls of the Ministry so that Kalmakhelidze would stop torturing the prisoners. The group of various journalists and NGOs will not stop. They said they will appeal to every international human rights organisations and the diplomatic corps to consider and satisfy their demands.

Analyst Gia Khukhashvili told The Messenger, “The fact that the penitentiary system has serious problems is very obvious, even simply by Georgia’s place in the world in terms of the number of prisoners is a sign of this.” The analyst mentioned the system is closed for a number of reasons, “The infrastructure in prisons is far from that in civilised countries, which is one reason that the system is locked. Where there should be one prisoner to a cell and you have three or more with not enough space you do not want such things to become public. On the other hand how the rights of prisoners are protected in such institutions is under a big question mark. Quite significant information on the violations of prisoners’ rights has already become known and the heads of the system do not wish such details to be known.” Khukhashvili said the current chair of the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance is a nominal figure, “She is just a face. In reality the system is being ruled by other forces, thus, those problems, which the system has now, are not only the fault of Kalmakhelidze.”