“Something appalling was happening in Prison”
20 September, 2012
“Something appalling was happening in Prison”

Pre-election shock

For years, NGOs and human rights organizations have been asserting that the there were the outrageous facts of torturing the inmates in the places of confinement; however, the  Authorities paid no attention to their claims. Today, when the video recordings of the episodes of prisoners’ maltreatment have been aired, the Administration had to admit its blunders. Although it’s hard to believe that the functionaries who had been serving at the Police, had no idea about the offences that were

taking place in prisons. At the same time, for the prevention’s sake, it should be noted that there are similar protests taking place in Georgia against the courts of justice, businesses, media, etc.

 

At the long last the President of Georgia declared that he intends to dismantle the penitentiary system and the police patrol would substitute the prison guards. Despite the fact that the patrol force enjoys good reputation, it is headed by Akhalaya, who is known as an initiator of the old penitentiary system; moreover, his deputy Giorgi Lortkipanidze has been appointed a new chief of penitentiary department. Will his appointment to the said post change anything in the system? We’ll have the answer to this question in the near future.

Protests were held in various cities of Georgia after the release of video footage depicting torture of prisoners. It was released on September 17. The Ministry of internal Affairs made a special statement in this regard. According to the statement, Tamaz Tamazashvili, father of the majoritarian candidate of the ‘Kartuli Otsneba’ coalition, was involved in inhumane treatment of prisoners. Later, video footage was released by Maestro TV and the 9th Channel. The video depicted physical and moral outrage of prisoners. After release of the video, Davit Chakua, Head of the penitentiary department of the Ministry of Legal Assistance and Correction, was dismissed.

Later, “Channel 9” released a new video, which was shot in a juvenile prison. Video footage shows beatings and ill-treatment of juveniles. The main question, which is posed to a juvenile, concerns thieves. “Do you respect thieves?” The juvenile demands not to be beaten. However, prison officers threaten the juvenile with rape.

Ten persons have been arrested with the charges of torture and inhumane treatment - Main Prosecutor of Georgia Murtaz Zodelava was briefed in this regard and he announced the positions and the names of the persons, who were involved in the scandalous crime.

Currently, the investigation is in progress to reveal and arrest other persons participating in the prisoners‘ torture.

The detained persons are: director of the N8 prison Davit Khuchua; deputy director, Victor Kacheishvili; head officer Oleg Patsatsia; deputy head of the penitentiary department Gaga Mkurnalidze; Security department chief - Levan Purtskhvanidze; chief inspector - Giorgi Kvaratskhelia; operative guard - Gela Tsomaia; controller of the prison - Levan Pkhaladze; director of the prison security department - Boris Parulava; controller inspector of the prison - Manuchar Lomtadze.

Eleventh suspect Vladimer Vedukadze is currently wanted by the police.

Murtaz Zodelava unveiled the scheme according to which several groups organized prisoners‘ torture and provided the video depicting these facts to third persons. He said the mediator between the third persons was organized by Tamaz Tamazashvili and Tamaz Elizbarashvili.

The Public Defender of Georgia once again calls on the law enforcement bodies to conduct a detailed investigation into the facts of ill-treatment that have taken place in the penitentiary system, including the cases that are mentioned in the reports of the Public Defender’s National Preventive Mechanism and the facts that were shown in the videos that the public saw.

The Public Defender has addressed the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia regarding many of such facts, though these facts are yet to be investigated and the persons who committed these crimes are yet to be punished.

In addition, the Public Defender once again emphasizes that, unfortunately, the Gldani Establishment No. 8 is not an exception in the system of corrections in terms of ill-treatment. There are similar problems in the Kutaisi Establishment No. 2, the Establishment for Defendants and Convicts No. 18, and the Ksani Establishment No. 15.

‘I will ensure that the torture and humiliation is eliminated in the penitentiary system. I will see this through, - said the Prime Minister at the meeting of the government held in Khashuri.

President Mikheil Saakashvili has released a special statement with regard to the torture of prisoners. According to the president, he is very angry and shocked after watching the video footage.

‘What happened in Gldani prison is shocking. All, organizers and executors, deserve the strictest punishment. Police has already detained the majority of culprits and the rest will also be punished’, the president said.

According to him, Georgia will not put up with similar crimes. ‘All, who were responsible for preventing such facts, will be dismissed, while those who committed this crime, will spend many years in prison’, Saakashvili said.

‘I will personally ensure protection of rights in this system. In the country, that we are building, everybody has the right to fair and worthy treatment. Our state is based on respect of human rights and honor, and we will put an end to this violence’, Mikheil Saakashvili said.

Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia, Khatuna Kalmakhelidze appealed to the Prime Minister about resignation.

“All that has occurred in the Gldani N8 penitentiary facility is absolutely horrifying to me and in this regard, I have appealed to the Prime Minister about my resignation. Humanely, I am deeply sorry for what had happened there and I want to take humane and of course, political responsibility. During my ministerial time I tried, and I did my best to ensure that human rights were protected and that the penitentiary system was in compliance with European standards, but it appears that this effort was not enough, because similar incidents had taken place. I am very sorry ; it does not matter who organized it.”

The head of EUMM Georgia, Ambassador Philip Dimitrov commented on a case of prisoner abuse facts in Georgian prison. On a question as to what would be his official assessment of the video that was spread yesterday in Georgian media and caused widespread turmoil in the country, Dimitrov stated:

“The video material showed that something appalling was happening in a Georgian prison. People are shocked and naturally this should not go unpunished. It is important that Georgia, i.e. its Government shows that there has to be zero tolerance to such acts and that responsibility is clearly taken”

Diplomats are shocked by the facts that became known, - declared one of the leaders of “Georgian Dream”, Davit Usupashvili after meeting with representatives of international organizations and the diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia.

“I do not have the right, according to diplomatic protocol, to cite anything, but I can say that everybody is horrified and shocked by the fact that such things can happen. This is a systemic problem”, - said Davit Usupashvili.

International human rights organization -the Human Rights Watch -has published a statement regarding the facts of torture revealed in Gldani N8 prison. The organization calls for detailed investigation and punishment of the persons involved in the crime.

“Video footage broadcast on Georgian television on September 18, 2012, depicts sexual and other abuse of inmates in a notorious prison in Georgia, which should be subject to criminal investigation, Human Rights Watch said today. The government of Georgia should conduct a prompt, thorough, and independent investigation into the abuse, hold those found responsible accountable, and ensure the victims remedy”, - HRW says.

Human Rights Watch also said that those under suspicion for involvement in the abuse should be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

“Acts of a criminal nature, such as assault and including sexual assault, should be subject to criminal investigations and prosecutions, and not simply disciplinary sanctions”, - Human Rights Watch said.

The President instructed representatives of the law enforcement agencies to send the patrol police into the penitentiary system. As the President said at a meeting with the government officials, this is a temporary measure, until the reshuffle in this system takes place.

“At the beginning it was so in the police system. Send patrol police groups into the penitentiary system; this is not the duty of the patrol police, but there’s an emergency situation, as long as it is not fundamentally renewed. This is a temporary measure”, - said the President.

Later, The U.S. embassy  in  Georgiahas urged the Georgian government to conduct ongoing investigation into prisoners’ abuse case in a thorough and transparent manner. “We share the shock and revulsion of all Georgians at the terrible acts reflected in the images that came to light yesterday,”

 

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