National Preventive Mechanism Report on the Visit to the Prison N3 (23-24 October 2014)
The present document is a report on the visit undertaken by the National Preventive Mechanism of Georgia on 23-24 October 2014 to the Prison N3. During the preparation of this report, along with other materials, the technical reports of experts participating in the visit of the National Preventive Mechanism were also used. The documents acquired during the visit, as well as the reports of the members of the monitoring group, are stored in the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia. The present report contains the main findings of the monitoring group and is structured in a way that will not allow the identification of the respondent prisoners in light of the confidential nature of interviews.
The Monitoring Group found out that several defendants who were transferred to Prison N3 from Eastern Georgia waived their right to attend their court hearings due to the long distance to the Court. Therefore, the Monitoring Group examined the automobiles that were used for the transfer of prisoners. The models “GAZ”, “Mercedes”, “Ford”, and “Suzuki” are used for the transfer of prisoners. The conditions in the automobiles of “GAZ”, “Mercedes” and “Ford” are not satisfactory, and travel with these automobiles inflicts a major discomfort to the prisoners. Along with many other problems, there is no due ventilation provided in the car, the interior of the automobile is small, the chairs have a rough surface, which inflicts physical pain during a long travel.
Unfortunately, the National Preventive Mechanism lacks possibility to thoroughly study the practice of surveillance through electronic means, as the decision on surveillance through electronic means contains little information and is often adopted in the form of template. Furthermore, any operative information that may serve as a ground for adoption of such a decision is inaccessible for the National Preventive Mechanism. Despite this, increased practice of use of surveillance through electronic means, on the one hand, and standardized nature of decisions, on the other hand, raises legitimate concerns as to the proportionality of these measures. It is noteworthy here that surveillance cameras are installed in 16 cells in prison N3.
According to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the prisoners are under the exclusive control of the state. In view of this, respective authorities of the state have an obligation to take every reasonable measure to prevent real and immediate risks against the physical integrity of prisoners if they know, or should have known, about the presence of such risks.
The Monitoring Group ascertained that out of these special means, handcuffs are used in Prison N3. It is important that the Ministry of Correction take all appropriate measures in order to prevent the use of handcuffs to transform into a routine practice.