Giorgi Tugushi, new public defender, sent biannual human rights report, covering the first half of 2009, to the Parliament, saying the human rights record in the country for the reporting period was “grave.”
Drawing up of the report was started before expiration of ex-public defender Sozar Subari’s term in office in mid-September and it was finalized under the supervision of his successor Giorgi Tugushi.
The report, in particular one of its sections covering situation in the prison system, has become a source of controversy between the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) and Ministry for Probation and Penitentiary System.
“One of the most problematic fields in Georgia remains the penitentiary system,” Giorgi Tugushi writes in the preface to the report.
The report itself identifies overcrowded cells in several prisons; poor healthcare for inmates, as well as ill-treatment of inmates in some prisons among the problems. In case of Prison No. 2, located in Kutaisi, the report says that “illegal use of force, beating, torture and ill-treatment [of inmates] has become a norm for the [prison] employees.” Report says that according to the information provided by the Ministry for Probation and Penitentiary System total of 54 inmates died in the reporting period. But the report also says that information obtained from each prison facility separately shows that in fact inmate death number reached in the reporting period 62, instead of 54 provided by the Ministry.
Dimitry Shashkin, the minister for probation and prison system, told Imedi TV on October 30, that he would question objectivity of the report, which, he said, was compiled by now opposition politician, ex-public defender, Sozar Subari.
In separate remarks to Rustavi 2 TV also on October 30, Shashkin said: “This report was prepared by the former public defender, who is now a leader of one of the opposition parties [Subari jointed Alliance for Georgia, which unites three opposition parties].”
He also said that the report showed the violations in the penitentiary system was not of a “systematic” nature.
Giorgi Tugushi, however, defended the report and said cases described in the document were “verified.”
“Mr. Subari probably has not even seen the section of the report which is about the penitentiary system, because at the time when he left the office this section of the report was not yet completed,” Tugushi said.
The report acknowledges “close cooperation” between PDO and Ministry for Probation and Penitentiary System.
In the preface to the report, Tugushi writes that “excessive use of force by the police, as well as investigation of cases of torture, inhuman and humiliating treatment [of detainees] still remains a problem.”
“It can be said, that these issues already represent a systematic problem, because cases which are promptly and effectively investigated are extremely rare,” the public defender writes.