Proposal to the Parliament of Georgia Regarding Draft Law of Georgia “On Introduction of Changes into the Code of Imprisonment”

The Public Defender of Georgia addressed the Parliament of Georgia with a proposal with regards to draft law of Georgia “On introduction of changes into the Code of Imprisonment”.

The Public Defender of Georgia welcomes an institutional reform that is planned in the penitentiary system though he believes that some of the provisions of the presented draft law need further improvement and bringing more in line with European standards of human rights. The Public Defender stresses several important amendments reflection of which in the law is important for establishment of high standards of human rights protection. These amendments are:

The draft envisages only technical changes with respect to issues of use of audio-video equipment and other types of recording devices on the territory of a penitentiary establishment. In the opinion of the Public Defender, implementation of essential changes with this regards are necessary. The Public Defender of Georgia addressed the Georgian Parliament with a legislative proposal pertaining to introduction of amendments into the Code of Imprisonment and the Organic Law of Georgia “On Public Defender”. According to these proposed changes, for the purpose of depiction of traces of damage on a prisoner’s body, the Public Defender/ a member of the Special Preventive Group should be granted the right to bring photo, video and audio recording devices into a penitentiary establishment and to make video and audio recordings. It is vitally important for the Public Defender of Georgia that the above proposal is considered alongside those changes and the Parliament discusses the issue of granting this right to the Public Defender/ a member of the Special Preventive Group.

According to the draft law, the standing commission of the ministry dealing with release on parole is abolished and this authority will lie just with local councils. In the opinion of the Public Defender, just abolishment of the standing committee cannot eliminate problems existing today. It is important that the law envisages the principle that the decision of the council is substantially grounded and this decision can only made on the grounds of a verbal hearing.

The proposed draft, like the current version of the law, envisages that the right to determine the type of the establishment of depravation of liberty lies with a director of the department. In the opinion of the Public Defender, for improvement of problems existing with regards to placement of prisoners, it is better that on the first stage it is the court that defined the type of the establishment of deprivation of liberty for a prisoner.

It should be taken into account that according to the proposed changes, the list of grounds for passing a sentence of administrative imprisonment increases. It becomes possible to sentence convicts placed in the establishment of depravation of liberty of the high risk to up to 90-day administrative imprisonment. It becomes possible to apply clearly disproportionate punishments to prisoners placed in establishment of various types of deprivation of liberty. In addition, another problematic issue that remains is case-proceedings of sentencing to administrative imprisonment. According to the current regulations, a prisoner is not granted enough time and means to prepare for defense and this contradicts the article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. If administrative imprisonment, as a term of the punishment, remains in the Code of Imprisonment it is necessary to review the maximum term of imprisonment and reduce it from 90 to 15 days.

Additionally, the Public Defender’s proposal identifies other problematic issues of the draft law that need further improvement.

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

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