About the monitoring carried out in Penal Establishment No. 809 07 2012
On July 8, 2012, employees of the Department of Prevention and Monitoring of the Public Defender’s Office carried out unplanned monitoring in Establishment No. 8 of the Department of Prisons. The unplanned monitoring was caused by information disseminated by the media and representatives of different NGOs through social networks on July 6, 7 and 8, 2012, according to which prisoners of Establishment No. 8 had made a mass disturbance and riot due to which a special purpose unit had entered the prison. According to the same information, the entrance of the special purpose unit in Establishment No. 8 had been followed by mass violations of the rights of prisoners and several prisoners had died.
The employees of the Department of Prevention and Monitoring of the Public Defender’s Office arrived at Establishment No. 8 as early as on July 6, in the night hours, as soon as this information was disseminated, and inspected all the cell blocks of the establishment, as well as a certain number of cells. As a result, it was found out that the disseminated information did not correspond to the truth. In order to calm down the loved ones of the prisoners and avoid panic, the Public Defender disseminated the information at his disposal on the same night. Despite all the aforementioned, on July 7, different news outlets kept spreading information about entrance of a special purpose unit in Establishment No. 8 and about beating and death of prisoners, which caused fear and uncertainty in prisoner’s families and their loved ones.
On July 8, 2012, the employees of the Department of Prevention and Monitoring carried out monitoring in Establishment No. 8 again. During this monitoring, they inspected all the cell blocks (A, B, C, D, E) of the establishment once again. The members of the preventive group personally met and interviewed up to 400 defendants and convicts. They visited 48 cells of cell blocks A, B, C, D, and E and 334 prisoners placed in them. In addition, they checked the solitary cells and interviewed all the convicts placed in them at the time of the monitoring. There were 24 prisoners altogether in the solitary cells at the time; they were distributed in 24 cells. In this establishment, each solitary cell is for one person. In addition, the members of the preventive group checked all the quarantine cells of the establishment; six cells were used at the time of the monitoring and 33 defendants were placed in them.
In total, the members of the preventive group visited 391 prisoners who were placed in different parts of the establishment. They interviewed the prisoners about different issues concerning their living conditions, the exercise of different rights, treatment towards them, and commonly used methods of punishment. In addition, particular attention was paid to verification of the information disseminated in the past days.
Absolutely all the prisoners who were interviewed denied the fact of entrance of a special purpose unit in the establishment and beating of prisoners by its members. None of the prisoners visited bore injuries characteristic of beating or ill-treatment. All the prisoners in the cell blocks stated that they had learned the information disseminated in the recent days from the radio; they said that they had been surprised, called it misinformation, and expressed their indignation towards the disseminators of the false information. All the prisoners stated that a special purpose unit had not entered the establishment and that, if this had occurred, they would have seen it and heard about it. In addition, the members of the preventive group asked them whether a prisoner had died in Establishment No. 8 in the recent days. All the prisoners stated that they had no information and had heard nothing about such a fact.
The prisoners named their long-term placement in Establishment No. 8 as the major problem. In particular, despite the fact that the majority of them have been convicted for a long time, they are not transferred to the respective penal establishments and remain in this establishment for an indefinite period of time, awaiting the transfer. As a part of the prisoners explained, they cannot exercise their right to have a walk in full, since the walks last for 15-20 minutes instead of one hour provided in the law. The majority of the prisoners pointed out that fruits and vegetables were sold very rarely in the establishment’s shop and, even in the cases when they were sold, they were homogeneous and scarce, and seasonal products were not provided. Some of the prisoners complained about poor quality of other products sold in the shop (e.g. sausages and hygienic means). As for the treatment towards them by the administration, the majority of the prisoners stated that the employees did not challenge and insult them, though excessively strict regime and regime requirements still constituted a problem in Establishment No. 8. In particular, speaking in an average voice and listening to the radio in an average volume in the cell is considered as making noise, due to which the prisoners are compelled to talk to one another almost in a whisper. Otherwise, they will be punished and placed in a solitary cell. The majority of the prisoners pointed out that they were prohibited from lying on their own bed in the cell till 5 p.m. and they could not sleep from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., while at 10 p.m. they had to go to bed by all means. In addition, they said that greeting other prisoners, even acquaintances, was also punished with placement in a solitary cell. In addition, they are prohibited from looking out of the window. This particularly pertains to the prisoners placed in the blocks and cells whose windows face the administrative building and the road and from which prisoners’ movement (going to meet lawyers, placement of newly admitted prisoners in cells, etc.) can be seen. The prisoners are still prohibited from smoking in the cell and hanging the washing washed by them in the cell in the daytime. As soon as the door of the cell, the food window, or the watching hole opens, the prisoners are compelled to stand on their foot and with their hands on their backs. In the quarantine cells, they have to stand in the same position and with their back to the cell door in two rows. Several persons placed in solitary cells stated that they had been punished for lying on their own beds in the day hours, but they were unwilling to make the aforementioned public; some stated that they had been punished for laughing loudly. The prisoners state that they are no longer taken down to quarantine cells for punishment, though all of them say that from a solitary cell they are first taken to a quarantine cell and then redistributed to the cells. At such time, they are kept in a quarantine cell from several hours to several days. The punished prisoners do not return from a solitary cell to their cells through a quarantine cell, and they are placed in different cells by all means. Prisoners placed in a solitary cell are given a mattress in evening hours, at about 10 p.m., but in the morning, at about 9-10 a.m., the mattress is taken out. They are not given bed covers. In the daytime, the beds in the solitary cells are flipped up, and the prisoners have to stand on foot or sit in a chair all day long. All the prisoners placed in the solitary cells had toilet paper and soap. According to the prisoners placed there, they are given food three times a day. In addition, they have constant access to running water.
There are eight quarantine cells altogether, of which six were used at the time of the monitoring. The cells are for eight persons; there is a mattress on every bed, but there are no bed covers. The prisoners in the quarantine cells stated that they had been admitted to the establishment under a quiet environment and had not been subjected to any ill-treatment. According to them, they had been visited by a doctor of the establishment upon being admitted. There was a toilet paper, soap, and dishes for food in every cell. They are given food twice a day. They have constant access to running water.
Almost all the prisoners declared that a doctor’s service was also available for them if they asked for it, and they did not complain about lack of attention from the medical staff. In addition, they stated that there was also a pharmacy in the establishment, which alleviated their condition significantly when they needed medicines. According to the prisoners, they exercise the right to conduct correspondence with their families, the right to receive parcels by post, the right to use the bath once a week (the Code provides for the right to use the bath twice a week), the right to use the establishment’s shop, the right to receive visitors once a month, the right to make phone calls twice a month (for five minutes on each occasion), and the right to have a walk if they wish to do so (almost all of them said that the walks lasted for 30-45 minutes instead of one hour). They meet their lawyers and members of the clergy without a hindrance. The prisoners still do not have TV sets. The availability of the press is severely restricted in the establishment. The prisoners have access to such publications as Sarke, Tbiliselebi, Reitingi magazines, etc. through the establishment’s shop. Of newspapers, the Lelo and Krosvordebi are available.