TBILISI, DFWatch–Several hundred prisoners have complained to the public defender’s office from September of 2012 until the end of the year saying they were subject to mistreatment by prison staff.
The disturbing figures are included in the ombudsman’s annual report to parliament, which was presented a few days ago.
There was a change of ombudsman in Georgia after the election, and the new ombudsman, Ucha Nanuashvili, is critical to how the situation in the prisons was handled by the former government. The report points out that although the previous ombudsman, Giorgi Tughushi, documented that there was abuse in the prisons, the government didn’t do anything to address the problem until a scandal broke in September, 2012.
September 19 that year, media published video clips documenting how prisoners were physically and sexually abused in particularly one jail in Gldani, in northern Tbilisi. Then, Saakashvili and his government reacted, first with statements of surprise by the president, then the resignation of the prison and interior ministers, and then Giorgi Tughushi was appointed as new prison minister.
Although the situation has improved since, Nanuashvili’s report describes hundreds of new complaints since September. All cases have been sent to the Prosecutor’s Office and are being investigated.
Today Wednesday, a few days after the report was published, the ombudsman issued another statement which concerns Ksani prison. The office asks the Prison Ministry to study the situation in this jail, where the majority of prisoners are dissatisfied because of mistreatment and problems with medical treatment.
Prisoners claim that the director of the facility and the head of the social service are not letting them write a confidential complaint to the ombudsman, while verbal abuse and cynicism is a daily occurance.
Prisoners with tuberculosis claim they are not getting the necessary medicine, and the medical treatment which they get is dangerous to use as it causes injuries to internal organs. As there are no special medicines and doctors do not provide it for them, prisoners have to buy it at the pharmacy, but many of them do not have enough money.
The prisoners complain about the food, frequent prohibition to talk on phones, not being allowed to meet with the minister, who visited that jail on March 24, 2013. They also complain about living conditions and not being let in the yard.