4/12/2012 â€“ â€śThe Georgian authorities should address long-standing concerns
about ill-treatment of prisoners and other detained persons by public officials
and take effective steps to repair the system of accountability. Constant
vigilance is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the absolute prohibition
of torture. I intend to focus on these issues in my dialogue with the
authorities, including during my next visit to Georgiaâ€ť said the Council of
Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils MuiĹľnieks, on todayâ€™s publication of
letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mr Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Acknowledging that several swift measures have been taken in response to the
prison abuse scandal and noting the Georgian authoritiesâ€™ pledge that such human
rights violations would no longer be tolerated, the Commissioner stresses that
it is now necessary to carry out effective investigations to identify and punish
those responsible for ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.
â€śBesides the direct perpetrators of these abuses, those officials who ordered or
were informed of the abuse should be held accountable. Suitable penalties,
commensurate to the gravity of the offences, should follow, but justice must not
be selective. The investigation and judicial processes must comply with human
rights standards so as to preserve the integrity and credibility of the
institutions responsible for upholding the law.â€ť
Commissioner also underlines that it is crucial to ensure that victims,
witnesses and their families be protected, including against retaliation from
those officials who were implicated in the cases concerned, and be provided with
adequate legal remedies, as well as medical and psycho-social assistance.
Finally, Commissioner MuiĹľnieks stresses that the phenomenon of ill-treatment in
prisons should not be viewed in isolation from the penitentiary system and
criminal justice policy in general. â€śGeorgia has the highest rate of
imprisonment in Europe, which stems partly from the stringent policy of â€śzero
toleranceâ€ť of petty crime and the disproportionately lengthy sentences imposed.
A more humane and human rights oriented criminal justice policy should be
adopted and the resort to detention on remand and imprisonment reducedâ€ť.
reply of the Prime Minister of Georgia is available
contact in the Commissionerâ€™s Office:
Stefano Montanari, + 33 (0)6 61 14 70 37;
Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent, non-judicial institution within
the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of, and respect for, human
rights in the 47 member states of the Organisation. Elected by the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe, the present Commissioner, Mr Nils MuiĹľnieks,
took up his function on 1 April 2012