TBILISI, DFWatch–The number of prisoners in Georgia was reduced by 56.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, according to the Ministry of Corrections.

The number of prisoners has been a cause of alarm during the last years. It reached its maximum in 2011, when there were more than 24 000 prisoners in the country as a whole.

About the same number of prisoners remained in jail in 2012 as well. The high rate of incarceration in Georgia has been a cause of concern for the international community.

The number of prisoners fell significantly after the change of government at the end of 2012, as the new government introduced a mass amnesty, which the president vetoed twice. It still went into force as parliament overturned his veto.

By the end of the first quarter of 2013, the number of prisoners has been reduced to 10 491. It was 23 969 in the same period of 2012.

“The Ministry implemented a number of measures in the system, which resulted in significant reducing the number of pre-trial/convicted inmates,” the ministry’s statement reads.

The National Movement party, which is now in opposition, criticizes the government for having caused an increase in crime, but the interior minister claims the statistics show that crime has not increased in 2013.