TBILISI, DFWatch – A prisoner in Georgia says he was sexually abused by prison staff and later told he would be killed if he told the outside world about it.
In a letter dated February 24, the prisoner asks for help and wants to be transferred to another prison.
Only now has the letter come to public attention, after it was received by the organization Solidarity with the Wrongfully Imprisoned, which fights for the rights of prisoners.
In his letter, the prisoner writes that was called to come with the guard to the administrative building, and there he was verbally assaulted and then beaten. After being beaten, he says he was raped with a baton, and then threatened that if he reported it, his life would be in danger. Afterwards, he was again beaten.
“I woke up in the same room chained and lying on the floor. Then they transferred me to solitary confinement. After several days, I tried to injure myself to attract somebody’s attention, but it had no result, and for sixteen days I was in absolute isolation and in extreme desperation.”
In the prisoner’s letter are the names of prison employees who participated in this incident. He asks to have this information forwarded to human right organizations locally and internationally, and asks them to react, so that he can have guarantees and be protected against further threats.
This is far from the only instance of mistreatment at prisons in Georgia. As reported by DF Watch, there have been a number of suspicious deaths in prisons.
The letter also describes an appalling situation inside the prison where physical abuse and violence is a common occurrence.
“But we bear everything, as much as we can, because in case of confrontation or expressing any kind of protest towards employees here we feel absolutely vulnerable,” the letter continues.
The Ombudsman’s latest annual report to parliament, which is a catalogue over the human rights field in Georgia, spent about 300 out of 600 pages on describing the situation in the prisons. (http://dfwatch.net/in-georgia-40-of-prisoners-who-die-have-injuries-18807)
The Ombudsman writes that mistreatment in prisons remains one of the primary human rights challenges in the country.
One of the described prisons is in Kutaisi, the second largest city. Prisoners reported receiving humiliating treatment, and if they violate the internal prison rules, instead of being moved into solitary confinement, the prisoners were first taken to so-called boxes, which are small compartments of 2-3 square meters, where there is no table, chair or bed, the ombudsman describes. He writes that some of the prisoners were beaten there, while others say that employees poured water on the floor so that prisoners couldn’t lie down.
A common thing described for the majority of prisons is that prisoners are warned not to complain, especially when people from the Ombudsman’s office arrive for monitoring. The Public Defender describes an unusual silence in Gldani prison, where more than 3 500 prisoners aren’t allowed to sleep during the day, to lie on the upper bed, to take off their t-shirt during the summer heat, or to listen to radio.
In some jails prisoners refuse to walk, as they are forced to run and any kind of interruption causes beating, or humiliation. So they spend 24 hours in their cells.
In the chapters describing separate prisons, the report deals with many separate cases of prisoner mistreatment. In the majority of cases there is no investigation launched, and if there is, the investigation is usually suspended or dragged out in time.
In the report, which describes the situation in 2011, there are described problems caused by overcrowded prisons; sanitary problems, the spread of disease, illness. Despite the ombudsman’s recommendations, the prison ministry recently closed two prisons and increased the permissible limit on the number of prisoners in the rest of the prisons, which lawyers and human rights organizations believe will worsen the already terrible situation. (http://dfwatch.net/kalmakhelidze-orders-more-crowded-prisons-in-georgia-57248)
653 inmates died in Georgian prison during the period 2006-2011. The number of dead prisoners significantly increased in 2010 and 2011 (142 and 140, respectively).
The Prison Ministry responded to the letter by informing that he was arrested as part of a ring of burglars. The ministry notes that he didn’t complain about the sexual abuse to the ministry’s general inspection.
The ministry is suspicious to the contents of the letter, because the information has been made public indirectly several months after its writing.
“Some political subjects consciously release false information regarding the prison system to mislead society, which attacks employees of the penitential system, as well as accused and convicted,” the ministry writes.
Despite the skepticism, the ministry promises to study the case in details and react.
Georgia’s Public Defender is also informed about the incident and has will respond after having studied the case.