Human Rights in Closed Institutions Report of National Preventive Mechanism of Georgia. 2012
Present Report covers the findings of the monitoring of penitentiary establishments, police departments and temporary detention isolators carried out by the Special Preventive Group of the Prevention and Monitoring Department of the Office of Public Defender of Georgia exercising its power within the National Preventive Mechanism mandate in 2012.
Participation of the representatives of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) together with National Preventive Mechanism team in the monitoring of penitentiary establishments located in Eastern Georgia was ensured within the framework of joint project of PDO and GYLA aiming the support of National Preventive Mechanism. Monitoring of establishments and temporary detentions isolators located in Western Georgia was implemented with the financial support of the European Union.
The monitoring of the penitentiary establishments also involved experts from organizations Empathy - the Psycho – Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Violence and Pronounced Stress Impact. During the reporting period the Prevention and Monitoring Department of the Office of Public Defender of Georgia undertook 587 ad hoc (3852 inmates interviewed) and 68 planned visits to penitentiary establishments of Georgia and 84 planned (227 inmates interviewed) and 31 ad hoc (101 inmates interviewed) visits to isolators of temporary detention under the MIA of Georgia.
During the monitoring process, Special Preventive Group of the Prevention and Monitoring Department of the Office of Public Defender of Georgia were allowed to and moved without any impediments within the penitentiary establishments as well as within the temporary detention isolators. They were also able to select meeting points with inmates/ detained persons according to their own consideration and interview them.
In accordance with Article 19, Chapter three of the Organic Law of Georgia on Public Defender, “Meetings of Public Defender/ member of the Special Preventive Group with persons under arrest, detention or any other form of restriction of liberty and convicts, as well as the meetings with persons held in psychiatric institutions, institutions for elderly persons and child care institutions shall be confidential. Any type of interception and surveillance is prohibited”. Despite the requirement of the law, the monitoring, as well as the materials published in the media revealed that secret video surveillance systems were mounted practically in every establishment in order to ensure both visual monitoring and overhearing. Accordingly, we consider that any issues that the Special Preventive Group and inmates discussed were known to the administration of the penitentiary establishments and any other persons who had access to such recordings. The above represents a substantial violation of national, as well as international standards and it questions both safety of inmates and activity of the National Preventive Mechanism.
In the process of the planned monitoring, representatives of Public Defender examined compliance of the existing situation and practice at the establishments with Georgian legislation as well as the international standards. During the monitoring process particular attention was paid to the treatment of detained persons/ inmates in each and every establishment.