Monitoring in the penal institutions of West Georgia The Zugdidi Jail No. 4

The Special Preventive Group of the Public Defender’s Office carried out planned monitoring in the Zugdidi Jail No. 4. The aforementioned institution is one of those that the Public Defender has recommended to close down in his parliamentary reports. The living conditions in the jail are beyond any criticism – the infrastructure is so obsolete and amortized that, in fact, it is not subject to repair. For the same reason, it is impossible to eliminate rodents and parasites from the territory of the institution. The aforementioned problem is exacerbated by the factor that the jail is overcrowded – at the time of the monitoring there were 453 prisoners in the jail (among them 15 women and eight minors), which exceeds the established limit of 305 prisoners.

The monitoring took place in an especially hot period of summer. Accordingly, the monitoring group was given the opportunity to observe the unbearably stuffy air and heat in the cells, which makes the lives of prisoners awful. The prisoners pointed out that the jail is not supplied with water 24 hours a day. The cells are supplied with water three times a day with various durations, for three hours at most, which further aggravates the prisoners’ condition.

As regards medical service, the Zugdidi Jail should be considered as one of the most problematic institutions. The documents (including reports on the rendition of medical services) are kept incompletely and incorrectly. For example, in the records of traumas, as well as in those of injuries of newly received prisoners, the dates are not entered with the right order, which means that the records are not made regularly and with the procedure established by law. In addition, cases are added at a later date. Often, the time and circumstances of inflicting the injuries are not indicated.

Apart from this, the monitors saw such prescriptions in the doctor’s records as “sugary water,” “candy,” and “khalva.”

The patients cannot receive a qualified medical service from physician/consultants. The local so-called medical inpatient unit, which occupies two cells, does not meet elementary standards. It is impossible to observe sanitary-hygienic norms in it. The monitoring group observed several cases when the patients who had been operated on in the hospital and had returned to the jail had their wounds festered, which is no surprise if we consider the jail’s environment.

From February 2010, the Zugdidi Jail is no longer visited by a psychiatrist, due to which the prison population is, in fact, left without psychiatric assistance.

In view of all the aforementioned, the Public Defender considers that the issues related to medical service in the Zugdidi Jail must become an object of particular interest of the Medical Activity Regulation Agency of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia.

Despite all the aforementioned, the prisoners pointed out that the availability of doctors had improved significantly in the recent months.

The prisoners also pointed out that treatment toward them had improved significantly in the recent period, and they didn’t express any significant complaints toward employees in this regard. Only a few of them pointed out that improper treatment toward prisoners continued, though they refrained from naming concrete examples.

The monitors also visited prisoners placed in punishment cells. It should be assessed positively that the prisoners placed in the punishment cells had mattresses and bed linens. The aforementioned prisoners declared that during their stay in the punishment cells they did not enjoy the right to have a walk and could not use the bath. The rest of the prisoners enjoyed the right to have a walk every day except Sundays, and could use the bath once a week.

The prisoners also have the right to correspond with family members, though, as they point out themselves, the majority of them do not exercise this right very often.

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