Deputy Public Defender of Georgia Giorgi Burjanadze and representatives of the Public Defender's Office met with a delegation from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The rights situation of prisoners in Georgia and the ways of solving problems were discussed at the meeting.
The delegation of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture paid a special visit to Georgia for the second time. The first such visit was carried out in 2012, after the spreadof of the so-called "prison footage". Recently, the Public Defender has sent a number of disturbing appeals to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture regarding the situation in penitentiary institutions. Inter alia, the Office provided information on the obstacles created by the Ministry of Justice/Special Penitentiary Service for the National Preventive Mechanism. The Public Defender’s Office welcomes and thanks the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture for showing interest and responding promptly and timely.
It should be noted that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, in a report following its periodic visit paid in 2018, among many other important challenges, focused on the problem of informal governance in penitentiary institutions, which has been the subject of study of the Special Preventive Group of the Public Defender in recent years. As it is known to the public, the special report published by the Public Defender in 2020 was followed by aggression by the Minister of Justice of Georgia. After such a reaction, monitoring in penitentiary facitlities for the Public Defender and the Special Preventive Group became not only extremely difficult, but also dangerous.
Representatives of the Public Defender's Office became targets of systematical verbal attacks, threats and aggression by a certain group of prisoners ruled by the so-called "prison watchers" and the administration of the facilities. The apparent purpose of such actions was to prevent representatives of the Public Defender's Office from having the opportunity to conduct confidential interviews with prisoners and to obstruct the monitoring process. The Public Defender of Georgia has been regularly providing information to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture about all the above.
During the meeting at the Public Defender’s Office, the Public Defender’s representatives provided the Committee with detailed information on the challenges in the penitentiary system and the recommendations of the Public Defender of Georgia, discussed the need for immediate resolution of various problems and other relevant issues.
After the visit, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture will draw up a report detailing the situation in the penitentiary facilities, including recommendations for resolving problems, and will carry out monitoring within the framework of its mandate for the purpose of improving the rights situation of prisoners in Georgia.
Source: Public Defender, Georgia