Rules of Placing Convicts in Solitary Confinement Declared Unconstitutional based on Public Defender’s Constitutional Lawsuit
The lawsuit of the Public Defender of Georgia has been granted and the rule of placing a prisoner in a solitary cell has been revoked. According to the court's decision, the Ministry of Justice should regulate the procedure and grounds for placing prisoners in solitary confinement by May 1, 2023, in accordance with the requirements of the Georgian Constitution.
The Public Defender has been demanding for years to change the rules of long-term isolation of convicts in Penitentiary Establishments Nos. 3 and 6 and restriction of their contact with other prisoners. The Public Defender assessed the practice of isolating convicts for months and years as ill-treatment. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has always paid special attention to the prisoners placed in solitary confinement, stating that the above might cause significant damage to their mental, somatic and social health.
On February 7, 2022, the Public Defender of Georgia filed a constitutional lawsuit with the Constitutional Court of Georgia and requested to declare the rule applied in Penitentiary Establishments Nos. 3 and 6 unconstitutional, according to which it was possible to place a person in solitary confinement for an indefinite period, without proper justification. In our opinion, the regulation contradicted the right to dignity.
On December 21, 2022, the first collegium of the Constitutional Court of Georgia granted constitutional lawsuit No. 1676 (Public Defender of Georgia v. Minister of Justice of Georgia) and the norms appealed by us were declared unconstitutional.
The Constitutional Court of Georgia established that:
- The decision on placing a convicted person in a solitary cell should be made in a written and substantiated manner, for a specified period;
- The decision should be based on the individual examination and assessment results, considering the obligation of periodic evaluation of the decision of the penitentiary institution;
- In addition, the convicted person should be provided with an effective right to appeal, which had not been provided for by the disputed norms.
 Report of the National Preventive Mechanism on the visit to Penitentiary Establishment No. 3 (October 23-24, 2014), available at: http://ombudsman.ge/res/docs/2019040512000333202.pdf;
 2021 Report of the National Preventive Mechanism, Prolonged Isolation of Prisoners as Ill-treatment, p. 42, available at: https://www.ombudsman.ge/res/docs/2022050612391096568.pdf [last accessed:27.12.22].
 21st General Report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, para. 53, (CPT/Inf (2011) 28), available at: < https://rm.coe.int/1680696a88 > (last accessed: 13.12.2020);