Public Defender's Report on Monitoring of High-Risk Prison No 3
The Special Preventive Group of the Public Defender of Georgia carried out monitoring in the penitentiary institution No 3 on September 16-17, 2019. The purpose of the visit was to examine the situation in the facility in terms of prevention of ill-treatment and to evaluate the implementation of previous years’ recommendations.
During the visit, the Special Prevention Team did not receive any information about the physical abuse of prisoners by the staff of the facility. According to some of the convicts interviewed, the attitude of the prison staff towards them improved compared to previous years. However, the report emphasizes that the cases of psychological abuse and informal punishment of prisoners still occur in the facility, which is reflected in the lengthy placement of inmates with problematic behavior in the de-escalation room.
The report refers to the difficult situation of rehabilitation and re-socialization and indicates that inmates spend 23 hours in cells without any activity and can walk in the yard only for an hour. In addition, there are inmates who have been held in solitary confinement for months and even years, which, according to the Public Defender, severely impacts their psychological condition and constitutes ill-treatment.
The management model of the high-risk facility represents a challenge, which, according to the Special Preventive Group, is again based on maximum restrictions, prohibitions and an unconditionally strict regime, which is incompatible with human rights-based approaches and impedes the positive change of inmates' behavior and their rehabilitation. In particular, high-risk prisoners are more restricted to communicate with the outside world, enjoy fewer visits and can make fewer phone calls. In addition, they are not allowed to enjoy video visits, while short meetings are held in a room with glass barriers, which artificially separates them from the visitors and prevents direct contact between them. The situation is particularly difficult for those whose family members live in eastern Georgia and find it difficult to visit prisoners due to the distance and extra costs.
Due to the isolation of the facility, lack of contact with the outside world and lack of needs-based activities, prisoners suffer from the lack of conversation and communication with people, which severely impacts their psycho-emotional condition.
The monitoring report was sent to the Director General of the Special Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia on 18 December 2019. The agency was requested to provide information on the consideration and implementation of the recommendations set forth in the report. Unfortunately, the Special Penitentiary Service has not presented its opinion on the report and this is not the first case of failure to provide information to the National Preventive Mechanism, which naturally has a negative impact on a constructive dialogue and compliance with the commitments under the Optional Protocol.
Pursuant to Article 22 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the competent authorities of the State Party concerned shall examine the recommendations of the National Preventive Mechanism and enter into a dialogue with it on possible implementation measures.