TBILISI, DFWatch – The current situation in Georgian prisons remains one of the main problems in the human rights field, according to the public defender’s annual report to parliament.

About 300 pages out of 645 explain the conditions and problems in Georgian prisons. One of the main challenges is improper treatment of prisoners.

The report says that as a rule, prison employees are not punished for illegal actions and heads of prisons mostly take care to hide rather than solve instances of mistreatment.

Prisoners are forced not to complain through the courts or by other means. The ombudsman writes that often prisoners tell public defender in detail about improper treatment, however then they ask to treat the information as confidential.

In rare cases, a prisoners complains, in which case he kept in the same prison and not moved, and then forced to renounce his testimony in order to avoid punishment.

The situation is even worse at prison hospitals, the report says. Prisoners often refuse to go there because of the ‘very strict regime’. Conflict with employees is in fact unavoidable.

Investigations about torture and violence are of often dragging or stopped, which doesn’t have any result but worsening the situation. Prisoners distrust investigations and prefer not to speak of their problems at all.

For the last two years, there was only one investigation which ended positively, ending in the arrest of two prison employees.

The report describes the difficult living conditions at the prisons and the problem of overcrowding.

From 2006 to 2011, 653 prisoners died in total. The rate of death has increased over the last two years: 2006 – 14 percent, 2007 – 15 percent, 2008 – 14 percent, 2009 – 14 percent, 2010 – 22 percent and in 2011 21 percent of the prisoners died. A majority of them died of tuberculosis (31,59 percent).

The Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgian responded to the report saying that a number of reforms is being conducted, but that there are still many problems in the system. The Ministry promises to study the report in detail and take measures in consideration of recommendations from the ombudsman and international organizations.