The messenger logo

Public Defender publishes special statement on situation in penitentiary establishments

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Thursday, January 21
Yesterday, on January 20, the Public Defender's Office of Georgia published a special statement, talking about the problems faced by the representatives of the office while visiting and monitoring the penitentiary establishments.

Last year, in 2020, after several months of researching the situation in penitentiary establishments, the Public Defender published a special report saying that the penitentiary establishments in Georgia were managed by an 'informal hierarchy of prisoners'.

According to the Public Defender, the so-called 'prison-watchers' provided orders to prisoners, aimed at silencing them and preventing them from providing the Public Defender's representatives with accurate information.

After the special report, according to Georgian Ombudsman, public attacks were carried out on the Public Defender's office and its representatives.

“Illegal actions were taken by the Minister of Justice and Penitentiary Service, as a result of which, it has become not only difficult but also dangerous, for the representatives of the Office to carry out visits and monitoring at the penitentiary establishments,” reads the statement of the Public Defender.

The statement continues by saying that in recent months, a certain group of prisoners managed by the administration of the establishments and the so-called ‘prison watchers’ has been systematically carrying out verbal attacks, threats, and aggression against the representatives of the Ombudsman.

According to the Ombudsman's office, on October 31, 2020, and on January 14, 2021, a specific group of prisoners did not allow the representatives of the Public Defender to observe the situation in the facility. In particular, the representative of the Ombudsman of Georgia was not able to interview the doctor of Ksani Establishment No. 15.

On December 4, 2020, and January 13, 2021, one of the prisoners in the Gldani Establishment No. 8 threatened the representatives of the Public Defender's Office and requested that they stop their visits.

The Office of Ombudsman also notes that this establishment is a closed facility, however, this prisoner always manages to move around a specific area of the establishment when representatives of the Public Defender's office visit the facility. The statement also talks about the Rustavi Establishment No. 17, where a specific group of prisoners behaved aggressively towards the Public Defender representatives, telling them to stop visiting the prison.

On the other hand, the representatives of the penitentiary establishments call the statements of the Ombudsman ‘groundless’. They also said that they are doing everything to support the representatives of the Public Defender to carry out their job.

The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the Government of the country to take immediate measures to change the model of managing the criminal situation in Georgian prisons. The office also calls on the Parliament of Georgia to study the illegal model of management of semi-open establishments, by using parliamentary oversight mechanisms.