International Conference on Assessment and Strengthening of the Impact of National Preventive Mechanisms
On 16 October 2019, Public Defender Nino Lomjaria held an international conference in connection with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism of Georgia. The themes of the conference were the impact and strengthening of national preventive mechanisms and the prevention of torture and ill-treatment at all places of deprivation of liberty.
Representatives of the United Nations and the Council of Europe torture prevention bodies, national preventive mechanisms, national human rights institutions, influential international organizations working on torture prevention and independent international experts discussed the report prepared by international experts on impact of Georgia's National Preventive Mechanism on the prevention of torture. They also discussed the special cooperation between the international contracting authorities and national preventive mechanisms.
Participants of the event exchanged information, discussed ways of improving the working methods and agreed to respond to the identified problems effectively, sustainably and without infliction of harm.
“In 2009, when the Public Defender of Georgia assumed the function of the National Preventive Mechanism, the overcrowding of penitentiary establishments, as well as sanitary-hygienic situation, was concerning. The use of repressive methods were particularly alarming. At present, the treatment of inmates is significantly different, though the high public interest in the matter obliges us not to ignore any case containing signs of alleged ill-treatment.
10 years is enough time to analyze and evaluate the past, as well as to look objectively at ourselves and see our strengths and weaknesses, and if necessary, to consider changes in the strategy.
It should be noted that the lack of financial and other resources did not affect the independence of the mechanism in general. However, the effectiveness of the National Preventive Mechanism largely depends on the legal instruments available in the State. Prevention of torture is, first of all, ensured by effective investigation, quality justice and the rule of law,” the Georgian Public Defender said in her speech.
Nino Lomjaria thanked the European Union, Penal Reform International, United Nations Development Programme, the project implemented by the Council of Europe, Open Society Georgia Foundation and various donor organizations that make essential contributions to achieving the goals of the National Preventive Mechanism. She underlined the efforts of former Public Defenders Giorgi Tughushi and Ucha Nanuashvili, as well as experts and staff of the Special Preventive Group.
Welcome speeches were delivered at the opening event by Christian Urse, Head of the European Council Officein Georgia, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia Sabine Machl, EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell, Deputy Minister of Justice Gocha Lortkipanidze, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Nino Javakhadze, Deputy Minister of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs Tamar Gabunia and Executive Director of Open Society - Georgia Foundation Keti Khutsishvili.
The speakers spoke about the importance of the National Preventive Mechanism and its crucial role in identifying gaps in closed institutions, reviewed the projects implemented together with the Public Defender's Office and the cooperation aimed at providing various monitoring mechanisms and improving legislative and legal framework. They emphasized the importance of the efforts of the Public Defender in the elimination of torture and degrading treatment.
The ten-year performance of the National Preventive Mechanism of Georgia was discussed at the first session held within the framework of the conference, which was moderated by Deputy Public Defender Giorgi Burjanadze. The procedures and challenges related to the prevention of torture, as well as the practice and future steps of international contracting authorities, international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and national prevention mechanisms were discussed at the session.
The issue of orienting the global system of prevention of torture to the outcome, cooperation of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture with the National Preventive Mechanisms and the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, as well as new ways of using joint efforts, were discussed at the second session led by former Public Defender Giorgi Tughushi.
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The function of the National Preventive Mechanism was granted to the Public Defender of Georgia under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2009.