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Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Georgia

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has today published a report on its third periodic visit to Georgia, which took place in March/April 2007. The report has been made public at the request of the Georgian authorities.
25/10/2007
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In the course of the visit, the CPT’s delegation gained the impression that the situation as regards the treatment of people detained by the police in Georgia had considerably improved. Only a few isolated allegations of physical ill-treatment were heard, all but one of which referred to the excessive use of force at the time of apprehension. The CPT has welcomed the progress made in this area by the Georgian authorities, which is the result of a series of measures taken in recent years, including a new approach to the selection and training of police staff and a reinforcement of internal control and external monitoring mechanisms. At the same time, it is clear that the authorities must remain vigilant. The CPT has made several recommendations aimed in particular at strengthening the formal safeguards against ill-treatment and improving the screening for injuries.

In the area of prisons, one particularly welcome outcome of the on-going reform of the penitentiary system is the clampdown on corruption. However, the steep increase in the prison population, which has more than doubled since the CPT’s previous periodic visit in 2004, and the ensuing prison overcrowding undermine the efforts made to create a humane penitentiary system. The most extraordinary overcrowding was observed at the main pre-trial facility, Prison No. 5 in Tbilisi, where living space per prisoner was frequently below 0.5 m². The CPT has called upon the Georgian authorities to redouble their efforts to combat prison overcrowding, in particular by adopting policies designed to limit or modulate the number of people sent to prison.

No allegations of recent physical ill-treatment of prisoners by staff were heard at four of the five penitentiary establishments visited. However, at Prison No. 6 in Rustavi, the delegation received numerous and consistent allegations of prisoners being beaten upon admission as well as in other contexts. The CPT has recommended that the management of that prison deliver to custodial staff the clear message that physical ill-treatment and verbal abuse of inmates, as well as other forms of disrespectful or provocative behaviour, are not acceptable and will be dealt with severely.

The provision of health care to prisoners remains problematic, due to the shortage of staff, facilities and resources. The CPT is particularly concerned that the progress observed during the second periodic visit in the area of combating tuberculosis is jeopardised by the steep increase in the prison population.

No allegations of ill-treatment were received at the two psychiatric institutions visited, Asatiani Psychiatric Institute in Tbilisi and Kutiri Psychiatric Hospital. However, both establishments suffered from overcrowding, though patients’ living conditions were generally better at Kutiri. The report also includes an assessment of the legal safeguards applicable to involuntary psychiatric patients under the new Law on Psychiatric Care.

Following an immediate observation made by the CPT’s delegation at the end of the visit, the Georgian authorities have closed down the “Hauptvacht” (military detention facility) in Tbilisi, which provided totally inadequate conditions of detention.

The CPT’s report is available in English on the CPT’s website: http://www.cpt.coe.int