The Public Defender of Georgia Addressed the Minister of Corrections with a Proposal

The Public Defender of Georgia addressed the Ministry of Corrections with a proposal regarding a draft decree of the Minister of Corrections “On determining rules of conduction of surveillance and control, keeping, erasing and destroying surveillance records using visual or/an electronic devices”.

The Public Defender welcomes the initiative of the Ministry of Corrections to regulate the issue of surveillance and control using visual or/and electronic devices in establishments of imprisonment and deprivation of liberty. Though, he believes that certain provisions of the above draft decree need improvement and bringing in line with the European standards.

Namely, it is necessary to add toilets in cells and toilets of general use to the list of places in the draft where conduction of electronic surveillance and control of accused/convicts is prohibited.

According to the draft, the decree on surveillance and control is issued by a director of the establishment. The Public defender considers it vital that in every specific case the decree should specify all those facts and circumstances that caused necessity to conduct such actions. In addition, it is appropriate to present a copy of a warning protocol on conduction of audio-video recording to an accused/convict.

It is vitally important for the Public Defender that a provision of the draft that is in contradiction with the provision of the Organic Law of Georgia on Public Defender to be changed. Namely, the administration of the establishment is authorized to observe meetings of individuals envisaged by the clause 6 of the Article 54 of the Code of imprisonment, including public defender/members of a special preventive group, visually, using technical devices in the process of surveillance and recording but without listening. In the opinion of the Public Defender, the above-mentioned provision should be changed both in the presented draft and the Code of Imprisonment since this provision explicitly contradicts the Organic Law of Georgia on Public Defender.

The presented draft does not envisage necessity of periodic reviewing of a decision on surveillance and control using visual or/and electronic devices while periodic reviewing is one of the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to its member countries.

According to the draft, materials recorded as a result of surveillance and control, are kept for no less than 24 hours. In the view of the Public Defender, the period for keeping the materials should be increased to at least 10 days. Practice of the Public Defender/ members of a special preventive group shows that keeping materials have decisive importance for establishing objective truth.

Accordingly, the Public Defender of Georgia addresses the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia with a proposal to rectify shortcomings of the draft with the view of bringing in line with international human rights standards and he expresses his readiness to take an active part in the work process.

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