Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Prison torture shows Georgian Government abuses human rights

Physical, mental and sexual torture at Gldani is symptomatic of wider human rights abuses in Georgia

The horrendous video images of the abuse and torture of prisoners at Gldani prison Number 8 in Georgia is a sickening indictment of the Government of Georgia.
In 2010, the same prison was condemned by the Council of Europe’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture for abusing prisoners. Two years later and nothing has changed. Now prisoners are kicked, beaten and sexually abused.
The Interior Ministry has stated that it was an Opposition “plot” with people paid to carry out the video. However, with Saakashvili sacking the Prison’s Minister, Khatuna Kalmakhelidze and arrests of prisons’ officers, clearly even the Government cannot whitewash this story away.
The prison population has quadrupled from 7,867 in 2004 to a staggering 23,227 in July 2012.  This huge increase has seen a deterioration in conditions as the prison population exceeds the official capacity (currently 100.5% according to the International Centre for Prison Studies).
Officials have no fear of being caught and systematically carry out torture (as defined by Human Rights Watch), showing that Georgia is run under an autocratic regime that has little respect for human or civil rights.
Saakashvili has suspended all prison staff as he recognises the seriousness of the backlash resulting in street protests and relatives of prisoners trying to enter the prison.
Street demonstrations in Tbilisi
If there was no election pending on 1 October, then I doubt whether any meaningful action would be taken. We need to see a restoration of Georgian democracy with real accountability 24 hours a day, every day, regardless of whether an election is looming.
A full independent inquiry should be undertaken assessing the conditions of every prison across the country. The ongoing attacks on journalists and Opposition activists should halt and these elections should be free from harassment and intimidation. It is clear that this Government though has had its chance and failed. A new approach is needed to solving the country’s problems and protecting basic human rights.

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