Council of Europe: Prison conditions improving in Georgia

Sat 24 Sep 2016 01:09 GMT | 05:09 Local Time

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The Committee of Ministers in the Council of Europe said the current Georgian Government had addressed the issue of prison overcrowding.

A special committee within the Council of Europe (CoE) has released a document assessing the improving situation in Georgia’s prisons and the efforts of the current Georgian Government to alleviate issues such as overcrowding, agenda.ge reported.

Today a Committee of Ministers, a statutory decision-making body in the Council of Europe (CoE), said the Government had taken action to improve the lives of inmates in Georgia’s prisons, and results of these efforts were paying off.

The Committee came to its conclusion after investigating comments made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in relation to Georgian citizens, and following observations in prisons. 

One of the cases mentioned by the Committee was the Aliev v Georgia case, in which an inmate with the surname Aliev claimed he was a victim of inhumane treatment in Prison #5 in Tbilisi under the Eduard Shevardnadze and United National Movement (UNM) governments. 

In the ECHR verdict of the case, it stated for one year and four months, from September 6, 2003 (Shenardnadze’s era) to January 1, 2005 (UNM governance) Aliev was a subject of inhumane and degrading treatment in the cell "he shared with 15 other prisoners”.

The court granted Aliev € 10,000 in non-pecuniary damages, which was paid in 2008 but without proper, local investigation of the case. 

On September 6, 2016 the Georgian authorities informed the Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers that a new investigation had been initiated and that all information related to the investigation would be submitted by the end of November 2016,” said the Committee.

On a different note, the CoE Committee of Ministers report stated the current Government had worked hard to alleviate the problem of overcrowding in Georgia’s prisons.

The Committee said:

At the end of 2011 (under UNM) there were 24,114 inmates in Georgia’s prisons. 

Thanks to an amnesty law adopted by Parliament [under the current, Georgian Dream government] on  December 28, 2012 the number of prisoners was reduced and by October 2014, the number of prisoners reached 10, 158. 

In 2015 the number of prisoners was 9,716.  

The Public Defender underlined positive trends and important changes which took place in the penitentiary system in 2013, 2014 and 2015,” the Committee added. 

The CoE ministers praised Georgia’s Inter-Agency Council on Combating Torture and Ill-Treatment, and approved the national Anti-Torture Action Plan created under the current leadership which worked in the direction of strengthening legal, procedural and institutional mechanisms of combating ill-treatment in prisons, taking necessary action to efficiently identify cases of ill-treatment and conduct timely, independent and effective investigations, protection, compensation and rehabilitation of victims, awareness raising activities.

"The overall situation in Georgia’s penitentiary institutions reveals a positive shift and the steps taken by the Government are truly focused on improving prison conditions,” said the Committee. 

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