Public Defender Applies to Constitutional Court relating to Prisoners' Rights
According to the Constitution of Georgia, the Public Defender of Georgia has the authority to apply to the Constitutional Court when the basic constitutional rights of certain persons are violated. To this end, the Public Defender of Georgia applied to the Constitutional Court and demanded the repeal of various norms that violate the rights of persons placed in penitentiary institutions:
- The Imprisonment Code provides for various types of disciplinary liabilities, including the prohibition of telephone conversations, receiving and sending personal correspondence, and short visits. For many years, the Public Defender and international monitoring mechanisms have been calling on the Georgian Parliament to repeal these restrictions, but in vain. Communication with the family is not a privilege for prisoners, but rather a necessary precondition for their re-socialization and protection of their We believe that even the partial restriction of prisoner's communication with the family, in the form of a disciplinary sanction, is a disproportionate restriction of their private life, and therefore this regulation is unconstitutional.
- The procedure, duration and frequency of placement of prisoners in a de-escalation room have been a matter of concern for the Public Defender and international monitoring mechanisms for years. The decision to place a prisoner in a de-escalation room is made by persons with no relevant professional qualifications, which calls into question the appropriateness of the measure. The Public Defender considers that placement of a prisoner in a de-escalation room for a long time and its inappropriate use for punishment create a threat of inhuman treatment and contradict the right to dignity guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia.
- The Public Defender also filed a constitutional complaint with the Constitutional Court, requesting the declaration of the possibility of restriction of the right to short visits based on the decision of an investigator or a prosecutor unconstitutional. The disputed norm gives the prosecutor/investigator broad discretion to restrict the prisoner's right to short visits without justification.
- Convicts placed in a special risk facility are barred from enjoying video meetings. According to our claim, this restriction is devoid of rational grounds, as this category of prisoners enjoys the right to other types of visits. The Public Defender considers that the mentioned restriction contradicts the rights of equality and inviolability of private and family life guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia.
- The Public Defender also applied to the Constitutional Court against the regulations of the Imprisonment Code, which prohibit accused persons from enjoying video and long-term visits. We consider that this restriction contradicts the rights of equality and inviolability of private and family life enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia, as the need for direct and intimate contact with the detainee's family members and relatives is determined not by the convict’s procedural status but the objective reality, his/her placement in a penitenaitry establishment.
We hope that the Constitutional Court of Georgia will grant the claims of the Public Defender of Georgia and thus ensure the improvement of the rights situation of prisoners.
In addition, we’d like to note that in response to the review of a constitutional complaint filed by the Public Defender a few years ago, the Minister of Justice made changes and lifted restrictions that banned prisoners from keeping more than 100 sheets of official documents in their cell.