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After a long hiatus, journalists permitted at Gldani prison

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, September 24
After several years of being isolated from the penitentiary system, Georgian journalists were allowed access for the first time and to talk face to face with the inmates.

Due to an order of the new Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance, Giorgi Tughushi, journalists and religious figures came to Gldani No. 8 prison on September 21.

Inmates met the journalists with exclamations and the question “where have you been until now?”

The journalists state that the situation has improved since the patrol police arrived to the prison. However, there are prisoners who say that some have threatened them with revenge after the elections.

“If the country wants to calm the situation in the prisons, all those who work there (all former employees) must be removed, absolutely all of them,” one of the inmates said.

The inmates stated to the journalists that they were frequently beaten until the scandalous videos emerged and had to live in an awful environment.

Prisoners also revealed the names of those individuals who carried out the violence on them. The spirituals and the journalists have already delivered the names to the appropriate structures.

Representatives of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association who also visited Gldani N8 prison to monitor the situation there stated that that they had a possibility to see the perimeter inside and even talk with inmates in several cells.

They told us several names, and some of the individuals have already been arrested and others dismissed, but we think that dismissal is not enough and these people should be brought to justice too,” Tamar Chugoshvili, head of the Young Lawyers’s Association said.

Former Public Defender and current Minister of the system, Tughushi, spoke about undertaking the complete renovation and modernization of the penitentiary system and presented an action plan to the journalists on September 23.

Tughushi promised that new standards will be established in the system which would ensure the full protection of the inmates’ rights.

“The best models will be discussed and taken into consideration for this aim,” Tughushi informed.

According to the new minister, 1, 600 new mattresses will be brought to Gldani N8 prison, the number of probationers will be halved and the quantity of inmates will be reduced.

“The effectiveness of the early release commission will be increased. The commission will be reformed as well. The public council is also planned to be in operation. The council will consist of public representatives and NGOs,” Tughushi stated.