ISHR Georgia Report 2010: Prison Conditions in the Republic of Georgia
Summary Of The Results Of Monitoring In The Spring of 2010
The monitoring was conducted with the support of the Human Rights Commission of the Council of Europe
Prof. Dr. Avtandil Davitaia
ISHR Georgia Section
The living conditions in prisons and prison camps of Georgia – also known under their euphemistic name as "correctional facilities" - are not conducive of improved outcomes for inmates. Quite the contrary: The system amounts to an offence against international standards for correctional facilities. Requests for help in order to stop torture in their prisons are common. As prisoners are afraid of aggravating the situation, they avoid naming individual torturers.
The availability of medical care in prisons and camps is totally inadequate leading to a very high mortality in Georgian prisons. The human rights of the inmates are simply being ignored.
The hygienic conditions in quite a number of Georgian penitentiaries are well below the level acceptable for Human Beings. The inmates of the following prisons are living in extremely unsatisfactory conditions:
prison No.1 in Tbilisi,
prison No.3 in Batumi,
prison No.4 in Zugdidi,
prison No.7 in Ksani,
prison No.9 in Khoni.
The name "correctional facility" cannot be applied to these prisons, since the inmates there are stripped of even the vestiges of human dignity.
We call the reader's attention to the adjudication of the European Court of Human Rights from the 20th of October 2009 concerning the court case "Gorgiladze versus Republic of Georgia" (n/no. 4313/04 (Sect. 2). The court stated that the Republic of Georgia is guilty of infringement of the Art.3. of the European Convention of Human Rights (Interdiction of Torture): The Republic of Georgia was keeping Mr. Gorgiladze in a stuffy unhygienic cell without proper ventilation and light.
Numerous complaints have been made by inmates in the prison No.7 in Ksani – both in the section for general prisoners and in the higher security prisons. The complaints concern the lack of medical care as well as the horrifying hygienic conditions. The inside walls of prison cells there are covered with rough mortar. They are as cold as ice, they are so dirty and rough that touching them can cause festering skin lacerations. It is quite impossible to sleep in bunks close to a cell wall.
These conditions are also in the main prison building, which is constructed as a simple one-storey barrack. The toilets there are extremely primitive. There is an asphyxiating stench all over the prison environment. They are a dangerous source of infection for anyone who enters them.
Keeping prisoners in the prison No.2 in Rustavi in the sections I, II, III and IV is in itself torture. – Due to the catastrophic standards of hygiene there all sections are in urgent need of repair. There is no water supply and no electric light in numerous cells in this prison. Damaged water pipes are not repaired.
In the punishment camp No.10 in Rustavi there is no adequate heating system at all. The only source of heat is a small electric hot-plate.
The inmates of the prison camp for under-age prisoners in Rustavi are kept in a dilapidated barracks. There are seven rooms, 26 inmates to each room (on average) All rooms are in urgent need of repair. There is no ventilation system. The prison camp is grossly overcrowded, even by Georgian standards. The prison for tuberculosis patients in Rustavi consists of 3 buildings. There are 78 rooms for TB patients. The hygienic standards there are catastrophic. The buildings have no heating system except electric hot plates. All buildings are in urgent need of repair.
The hygienic standards in the prison No.6 in Rustavi are also catastrophic. The cells have concrete walls so they are as cold as ice. The walls are always wet. There is no light, - either because of broken electric wires or because of the broken light bulbs which are never replaced. The sanitary facilities in the prison camps for women are seriously inadequate. Women’s health-specific needs are not being met at al leading to the death of at least one prisoner. (prison camp No. 4 in Zugdidi, prison camp No.1 in Rustavi).
The same catastrophic situation exist in camps for under-age prisoners (Batumi No.3, Kutaïsi No.2 and Zugdidi No.4). In one of these prison camps women are being kept together with under-age prisoners.
Overcrowded cell in Georgia's prison. Photo: interpressnews.org
The biggest problem in the prisons in Georgia is the gross overcrowding of the cells, which very often results in the inmates having to sleep in relays.
The law concerning the living facilities for prison inmates states in paragraph 33 (Georgian law) that there must be 2 m² room per inmate in prison cells. The European standard guarantees 4 m2 per inmate.
The overcrowding and the extremely inadequate space in the prisons of Georgia sometimes results in appalling situations. A lot of inmates have no bed of their own, which is another gross violation of their human rights. Some examples:
• The Prison No.1 in Tbilisi has been built for 750 inmates.
The number of inmates on the 9th of December 2009: 1,209.
• The Prison camp No.8 in Tbilisi has been built for 2,500 inmates.
The number of inmates on the 14th of November 2009: 2,905.
• The Prison No.4 in Zugdidi has been built for 305 inmates.
The number of inmates on the 16th of November 2009: 578.
• The Prison camp No.10 in Tbilisi has been built for 370 inmates.
The number of inmates on the 26th of November 2009: 388.
• The Prison camp No.2 in Tbilisi has been built for 2,744 inmates.
The number of inmates on the 4th of December 2009: 3,082.
• The Prison No.8 in Tbilisi has been built for 3,672 inmates.
The number of inmates on the 15th of December 2009: 3,790.
• The TB section of this prison can handle only 540 patients.
The number of patients on the 25th of December 2009: 733.
• The Prison camp No.7 in Ksani was built for 1,600 inmates.
The number of inmates on the 25th of December 2009: 2,731.
In pre-trial custody prisons - e.g. prison No.3 in Batumi - the quarantine room where all new prisoners are kept e, has only 6 beds. At the time of monitoring this room served as accommodation for 22 persons.
The catastrophic overcrowding in the prisons of Georgia is the direct result of the "zero-tolerance" policy by the government. Breaking the law is being prosecuted independently of the degree of its danger for the society. Whether dangerous or minor - every misdeed is being pursued by law enforcement agencies.
The problem of overcrowding in the prisons is not jt simply the lack of a bed for each prisoner. Conditions are unfit for human habitation. There is no provision for schooling for underage prisoners and most other facilities are lacking. Acts of violence between prisoners or aggressively violent acts by prison wardens against prisoners are usually not recorded in writing.
There are no statistics kept of injuries suffered by victims. The Convention For Prevention Of Torture And Inhuman or Humiliating Treatment is being grossly violated. Detailed records need to be kept of incidents where prisoners are injured and the consequences of such injuries for the victim .In the year 2009 a number of prisoners tried to take their own life some successfully.
During the first four months of the year 2010 two prisoners have committed suicide.
Contacting the world outside
Rustavi prison Nr.2. Photo: dop.gov.ge
The right of the inmates to contact their relatives (in writing as well as by telephone) is almost non-existent. Contact visits are not allowed.
There are specially prepared rooms for such visits; the prisoner is separated from his visitor by a glass pane; their contact is limited to a conversation by telephone.
• in Zugdidi, prison No.4 - one room
• in Rustavi, prison camp No.2 - 12 rooms
• in Rustavi, prison camp No.6 - 13 rooms.
The European Committee For Prevention Of Torture And Inhuman Or Humiliating Treatment (of the Council Of Europe) has issued a recommendation to the government of Georgia concerning the procedure for visiting inmates in prisons. The Committee recommended revision of existing procedures and giving prisoners the right to receive visitors without glass barriers between them.
Although the Republic of Georgia is a member of the Council Of Europe, so far it has not implemented this recommendation. Even female and under-age prisoners in numerous prisons remain separated from their visitors by a glass barrier.
The information gained during conversations with inmates shows that they regard the severe time limitation for visits as one of the harshest treatments in prisons.
Medical care in prisons
Medical care Georgia's prisons is grossly inadequte. Photo: rferl.org
Medical care in the prisons of Georgia is grossly inadequte. Following is a list of allowances per person per month in various prison camps (in US dollars):
Tbilisi prison No.1 - 1,26 $
Tbilisi prison camp No.3 - 0,71 $
Tbilisi prison camp No. 8 - 1,20 $
Tbilisi prison camp No. 10 - 0,95 $
Rustavi prison No.1 - 1,75 $
Rustavi prison No.2 - 1,24 $
Rustavi prison No.6 - 1,50 $
Kutaïsi prison No.2 - 1,52 $
Batumi prison No.3 - 1,00 $
Zugdidi prison No.4 - 0,70 $
Zugdidi prison No.5 (female inmates) - 1,24 $
Ksani prison No.7 - 0,94 $
Geguthi prison No.8 - 0,60 $
Khoni prison No.9 - 1,31 $
Avkhala prison - 1,45 $
As can be seen Rustavi prison No.1 has the highest allowance of 1,75 $. The worst situation is in the Geguthi prison No.8: at 0,60 $ per month per inmate. The average the medical expense per month per inmate is only1,00 $. Most patients in prison hospitals do not receive any medications at all.
In cases when some of them receive medication - the medicines are the cheapest available and are ineffective. In case of illness inmates are dependant on relatives and friends and even then there is no guarantee the medication will reach the patient. The prison administration often prevents the prisoner from receiving outside help.
A large proportion of prisoners - 40% to 60% - suffer from hepatitis (a serious disease of the liver). Most of them - hepatitis C, some - hepatitis B; there are also cases of co infection with hepatitis B+C.
Most of the prisoners who suffer from psychiatric problems are not being treated. 132 such cases were registered in the year 2009 in the psychiatric sections of prison hospitals. One of these prisoners took his own life. Alcohol and narcotic addicts are not being treated at all.
Nadim Tsetskhladze died after torture in the Tbilisi prison in February 2010. Photo: humanrights.ge
The mortality in prisons is correspondingly high. 370 inmates died in the prisons of Georgia during the period 2006 - 2009. 22.8 % of them died in prison hospitals, 28.5% - in prison camps, and 48.7% - in civilian hospitals in the sections for prisoners. The average age of those who died was 46 years.
The cause of death:
01. Respiratory disease - 29 cases (20.01%)
02. Tuberculosis - 23 cases (15.86%)
03. Coronary heart disease - 17 cases (11.74%)
04. Infectious disease - 15 cases (10.34%)
05. Injury due to violence - 12 cases ( 8.27%)
06. Intestine and stomach disease - 12 cases ( 8.27%)
07. Various diseases - 10 cases ( 6.89%)
08. Urethritis. Bladder inflammation - 9 cases ( 6.21%)
09. Neurological diseases - 8 cases ( 5.54%)
10. Cancer - 6 cases ( 4.12%)
11. Diseases of the endocrine system - 4 cases ( 2.75%)
Mortality Statistics 2006 - 2009
ISHR Georgia Section