Minister of Probation and Corrections Sozar Subari has described the recommendations made by the Georgian Public Defender's Office regarding Prison #19 as "unprofessional". Subari suggested that Georgian Public Defender Ucha Nanuashavili wrote the recommendations without deeply studying the situation at Prison #19.
Subari blasts Nanuashavili's recommendations
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 5
Several days ago Nanuashvili appealed to the Ministry of Penitentiary and Corrections regarding Prison #19. According to Nanuashvili some of the inmates at the prison have tuberculosis. The Ombudsman stressed that on March 27th trustees of the Public Defender's Office monitored the penitentiary institution and detected various wrongdoings. Based on the testimony of 131 inmates the Public Defender's Office stated that the inmates lack medical assistance and are ill-treated by prison employees. Furthermore the Ministry of Probation and Corrections refuses to meet with them and hear their complaints.
The Public Defender's Office recommended that Minister Subari and Ministry officials pay attention to inmates' complaints and address their problems in a thoughtful manner.
In response Subari stated that despite his respect towards Nanuashvili, the recommendations "were less than professional." He stressed that number of sick inmates at the penitentiary institution has decreased from more than 800 to 300.
"It would be better if the Public Defender asked us questions and discussed matters before preparing the recommendations. In that case they would have gotten answers to all their questions." Subari said, adding that he is not legally obliged to meet with inmates.
"On my own initiative I often meet with inmates...mentioning in the recommendations that I do otherwise is simply not true." Subari stated.
The Public Defender's Office has already responded to Subari's comments. According to the Public Defender's Office the Minister's assessments were misinformed and showed that he was unfamiliar with the content of their recommendations.
According to Natia Imnadze, head of the Public Defender's Prevention and Monitoring Department, the number of inmates sick with tuberculosis has not decreased due to treatment, but rather to the release of large numbers of prisoners after the general amnesty and the President's pardon.
Imnadze stressed that all information published by the Public Defender's Office was based on face-to-face interviews with inmates and official documents of the prison doctors.
"It was not written in the recommendations that the Minister must meet with the inmates. It was stressed in the inmates' words that the Minister refused to meet with them and it would be better if the Minister finds time for such a meeting." Imnadze said, adding that the Public Defender's Office does not hold "pre-recommendation" meetings with any institution.
Later on the day IPN reported that Kakhaber Gvelesiani, Director of Prison #19, was dismissed from his post.
"He was dismissed three days ago. The decision was made by the Ministry leadership." Ministry of Probations and Corrections Press Spokesman Irakli Kordzaia told the news agency. Kordzaia did not know whether Gvelesiani's dismissal was related to the Public Defender's recommendations or not.