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Many demand brisk response to prison beatings

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, September 20
The Gldani prison incident caused an instant reaction from Georgia's opposition parties, numerous comments and statements made by the leading opposition figures were spread by Georgian media sources. However, their demands are absolutely similar– calling on the government to bring the suspects to justice and changing the whole prison system.

Bidzina Ivanishvili does not seem to be very surprised by the film showing abuse in Gldani's prison No. 8, which was broadcast on TV late Tuesday. “I knew very well that we had such violent authorities.” Ivanishvili fully supported the spontaneous protest rally, which was held late night on September 18th, in Tbilisi. The leader of Georgian Dream called to avoid unplanned rallies. “We should manage to reach the elections in an organized manner, without much emotion in order to change these authorities through the elections,” he said. Ivanishvili hopes that a large portion of the population to vote on October 1st.

Nino Burjanadze has expressed her disappointment in the international community, as they have made no reaction despite the fact that numerous similar incidents have been brought to their attention previously. She demands not only that the actual offenders to be sentenced, but also those who have created such an "ugly" system in the country.

The protest rally was joined by several representatives of the current opposition in the country.

Inga Grigolia, from Christian-Democrats, who is a candidate for majoritarian MP in Gldani, joined the protesters in front of the Gldani prison. She announced her decision to suspend her election campaign.

Grigolia made the following comment on her personal Facebook page:

"I feel it is simply immoral to continue with the election campaign. Therefore I have decided to suspend the campaign, before all responsible persons are not brought to justice, all parents are not given a chance to meet with their sons (prisoners) and there is no adequate reaction on people's protest."

Grigolia is not the only one who has come up with a decision to suspend the campaign. The leader of the New Rights Party, David Gamkrelidze announced on a briefing in Kutaisi, that his party will halt their current election campaign. He hopes that the government will fulfil Kalmakhelidze's request and resign her from the post of the minister, also the incident should be addressed efficiently by the prosecutor to make sure all suspects involved in the crime (including Kalmakhelidze) are sentenced according to the criminal code of the country.

An official statement was published on the web-page of the party today, which reads the following:

"Multiple facts of inmates being beaten, intimidated and abused in prisons prove that Human Rights are neglected and brutality is flourishing in the penitentiary system. This issue had already been discussed in Georgia by political parties, non-governmental organizations and parents of prisoners and it’s very bad that the president of the country has expressed discontent only yesterday.

Having in mind all above mentioned we, the New Rights Party, insist on the following:

• Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance Khatuna Kalmakhelidze should resign immediately and should be subjected to personal responsibility;

• Criminal proceedings should be started against all officials who took part in cruel treatment of the inmates. All these people should be severely punished;

• International investigation of these and other facts of abusing prisoners in Georgia should be launched under the aegis of Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner;

• Penitentiary system should straightway undergo full personnel and structural reorganization. This system should be dissolved and a new system with effective control mechanisms, excluding such facts of intimidation and ensuring protection of the prisoners’ rights, should be created.

We hope this natural indignation and protest of the society will lead to logical outcome and all officials, who have created such a perverse environment in the penitentiary system, who were instructing or taking part in the offence, will bear political and legal responsibility."

"The government should take political responsibility on the fact" says Lika Naghebashvili, representative of the European Democrats. The party joined the mass protest in the country and dedicated a special briefing to the Gldani prison incident. As Naghebashvili stated, arresting only 10 suspects is not enough to effectively address the problem, it is essential to clean up prisons from "potential murderers" who do exist, apart from those from the rape video footage. Torture and inhuman treatment should be stopped in prisons forever.