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Ministry of Corrections: number of prisoners has not increased

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, March 11
In response to a report from the European Council, the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia denies the fact that the number of prisoners in jails has increased.

The European Council has released its report in which they have noted the increased number of prisoners in Georgian jails in 2015 compared to 2014.

According to the report, 9 093 prisoners were in the prisons by January 1, 2014. However, in January 1, 2015, this number has increased to 10 372.

The Ministry of Corrections of Georgia released a statement, which reads that since 2012 the number of imprisoned individuals has sharply decreased.

“Our Ministry runs all the measures which were decided by the court. Due to this, the increased or decreased number of prisoners is not caused by the Ministry,” reads the statement.

The Ministry of Corrections also underlined the fact that Georgian prisons are no longer overcrowded.

“All the measures to improve the living of imprisoned individuals in jails are running as they are supposed to. The problem of a lack of space for prisoners was also solved,” reads the statement.

Georgian politicians also responded to the report. Member of the Parliament Majority Gia Volski stated that the critically high number of imprisoned people has decreased.

“Compared to the situation in prisons in 2012, the number of imprisoned individuals is now normal. If the number has increased compared to 2014, it is not a tragedy. We should fight and punish criminals,” stated Volski.

Zurab Abashidze, a member of the Free Democrats opposition party, said that he would be more worried by an increase in the crime rate.

“I am sure that everyone understands the necessity of decreasing the number of criminals. For breaching the law, criminals should be put in jail,” stated Abashidze.

Member of the Parliamentary minority Gigi Tsereteli stated that the increase number of imprisoned people was caused by an increased number of criminals.

“It is good that the government understands that fighting criminals needs the imprisonment of the guilty,” stated Tsereteli.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) also evaluated the report. According to them, re- socialization programmes should be run.

A representative of the Human Right’s Center, Tamar Avaliani, said that local organizations should work with prisoners.

“Just letting imprisoned individuals out of jail after the expiration of their term is not right. Different programs should be implemented in the prisons to change their points of views,” stated Avaliani.

According to the report, the highest number of prisoners in Georgia was registered before a massive amnesty in 2012. The number of imprisoned individuals was 24 079.

According to the report of the European Commission, 1, 600, 324 prisoners were sentenced in 2014 in the European Council’s member countries. This amount is less by 7% compared to 2013 statistics.