Thursday, 16 June, 2022

According to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, No Cases of Ill-treatment in Georgian Prisons Have Been Reported

On 16 June 2022, following the visit to Georgia, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published a report with additional comments from the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.

The CPT welcomes the fact that the delegation had excellent cooperation and full support during the visit, both from the Ministry of Justice and the leadership of the Penitentiary Service, as well as from the staff of the penitentiary institutions. This once again confirms the transparency of Georgia's penitentiary system.

According to the report, the delegation did not receive any information about any ill-treatment of prisoners by prison staff. On the contrary, the CPT estimates that there is a positive and peaceful relationship between staff and inmates.

The health care system of the penitentiary service also received a positive assessment from the European Committee; In particular, according to the CPT report, counseling and treatment of communicable diseases is quickly and easily accessible. Georgia's practice of managing COVID in the penitentiary system was highly praised by the Committee, as a result of which, despite the pandemic, it was possible to maintain prisoners' contact with the outside world.

As for the recommendations in the report, some of them have already been taken into account or reflected in the 10-year strategy developed by the Ministry of Justice; In particular, the CPT focused on the need to increase the number of outdoor cell activities, employment, education and sports programs. The European Committee has already been informed that during 2021 a number of educational, cultural and sporting events were held in penitentiary institutions with the participation of 2151 prisoners. Of particular note is the victory of female prisoners at the World Chess Championship. Also, after the CPT's visit, a new sports management system was approved in the penitentiary system, under which prisoners will be trained by professional instructors. Sports fields were renovated in №5, №14, №15, №16 and №17 penitentiaries; A digital university program has been launched, under which convicts and defendants will have the opportunity to study remotely at authorized universities in Georgia; More than 1000 prisoners are currently employed and this number will gradually increase.

Another recommendation of the European Committee is to reduce / prevent violence among prisoners and increase the number of staff in penitentiaries. The CPT was informed that the Special Penitentiary Service would respond promptly to any attempt at violence or intimidation between prisoners. Risks and needs are assessed on an ongoing basis, resulting in the transfer of individual prisoners to high-risk facilities. If the relevant preconditions exist, an investigation is launched and the perpetrators are brought to justice. Cases of violence among prisoners will be further reduced after the opening of new penitentiaries; In particular, a penitentiary will be opened in Laituri by the end of the year, which will be designed for up to 700 prisoners. As for increasing the number of employees, this process has begun. At the same time, the conditions of the employees are gradually improving.

The CPT also requested information on individual incidents in penitentiary institutions, which was provided by the Ministry of Justice within the set timeframe.

The European Committee particularly appreciates the readiness of the Minister of Justice to co-operate actively with both the CPT and the Public Defender. The openness of the Georgian penitentiary system is further confirmed by the publication of the CPT's report, which was carried out with the consent of the Ministry of Justice.

The reform of the penitentiary system will be actively pursued in accordance with the 10-year strategy of the Ministry of Justice, which will take into account the recommendations of the CPT. The clearest indicator of the effectiveness of the reforms already implemented is the statistics of the European Court of Human Rights, according to which the European Court of Human Rights has not received any cases sent from the Georgian penitentiary system since 2012, which confirms the high standard of protection of prisoners' rights within the country.

The CPT delegation was hosted by the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and the Special Penitentiary Service on May 17-24, 2021. During the visit, the delegation visited 4 penitentiary institutions (№2, №14, №15 and № 17).

After Tbilisi and Kutaisi, Minister of Justice Presents Annual Report in Borjomi

Rati Bregadze spoke about the reforms that have been carried out to strengthen the priority areas of the Ministry.

One year after the presentation of the Development Strategy of the Ministry of Justice, a number of promises have been fulfilled:

Innovative project - the Mobile Public Service Hall has been introduced and is successfully operating in 7 regions; Electronic probation service system - PROBBOX was installed in 6 big cities of Georgia; Systemic land registration reform has been launched in 59 municipalities of Georgia, land is being measured and registered according to the time plan.

Infrastructural works continue - 5 new public service halls and community centers were opened; Construction is underway in 6 more municipalities; An additional public service hall will be opened in Hualing, Tbilisi; Samtskhe-Javakheti Regional Archive building was opened in Akhaltsikhe.

The bilingual magazine Justitia was founded and published; The largest electronic legal framework HeinOnline became available to the Ministry of Justice; Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with the Ministries of Justice of Turkey, Israel, Hungary, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Switzerland.

Notary services became available in administrative units - Saguramo, Gamarjveba, Martkopi, Shuakhevi, Adigeni, Aspindza, Kachreti, Keda, Khobi, Zestaponi, Sighnaghi and Ambrolauri; Soon, citizens will be able to receive online notary services through a mobile application.

Significant reforms in the penitentiary and probation systems - employment programs for prisoners have been accelerated; Encouragement of sports activities in penitentiary institutions continue; sports squares have been repaired; Regular exercises are being held, probation bureaus are being opened in Sighnaghi, Terjola, Kutaisi and Zestaponi; the referral center opened in Kutaisi; Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with the municipalities for the employment of convicts.

The presentation of the report was attended by the Deputy Ministers, the State Representative in the Imereti Region, representatives of the local authorities, employees of the LEPLs under the Ministry of Justice and invited guests.


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