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The News in Brief

Thursday, October 15
Georgia to allow human rights inspectors to take photos in prisons

From next year, the Georgian government will allow the Public Defender’s Office to take pictures inside prisons.

This will allow photographic evidence to be obtained in cases wherein there is suspicion of abuse, or when sanitary conditions are deemed questionable.

Prison Minister Kakha Kakhishvili on Monday called the decision ‘revolutionary.’

Georgia’s prison system has been surrounded by controversy, as the Saakashvili government filled the prisons under dubious judicial safeguards while Western experts sought to reform the increasingly overcrowded facilities.

The Public Defender, or Ombudsman, had the task of looking into the many horror stories emerging through family and friends of inmates, and criticized conditions although facts were often disputed and access was limited.

Kakhishvili, who represents the new government which took office in 2012, told journalists Monday that on a legislative level, the required amendments have been passed, and the Prison Ministry is currently preparing the rules for taking photographs inside its facilities.

The new photo rules will be operational from 2016. Representatives of the Public Defender’s Office will be allowed to take pictures if a prisoner has bodily injuries, or to document the hygienic conditions inside jails.

Kakhishvili underlined that the regulation would need to be refined in such a way that photos are not used for ‘pointless PR.’

Photos of prisoner abuse have played an important role in recent Georgian politics. In September, 2012, two weeks before a parliamentary election, a handful of videos taken inside prisons were leaked to the media. The footage showed prisoners being subjected to verbal abuse, violence and even sexual abuse.

The publication of the videos caused an outrage, with hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against the prison system, and may have affected the outcome of the election.

After coming to power, the Georgian Dream coalition introduced a mass amnesty which led to the release of half of all prisoners.

The Public Defender is a public official with a staff that investigates possible human rights abuses, summarizing findings in a report to the parliament once a year. It is Georgia’s national preventive mechanism under Council of Europe rules, with responsibility for looking into suspicions of inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners. (DF watch)

Georgian Leaders Congratulate Belarusian President on Re-Election

The Georgian President and Prime Minister congratulated Alexander Lukashenko on his re-election as President of Belarus for a fifth consecutive term.

Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 21 years, paid his first official visit to Georgia in April, 2015.

“The people of Belarus have taken one more important step towards development, which will undoubtedly contribute the progress and wellbeing of your country,” President Margvelashvili said in his message. “I am confident that your future tenure will further serve development of traditionally friendly relations between our countries.”

PM Irakli Garibashvili said in his message: “I am confident that friendly relations between Georgia and Belarus will further develop.” (

Prime Minister criticizes media

The Prime Minister of Georgia has criticized the accents of the media during the dissemination of information. As the head of the government said at the governmental session, many important things are being done in the country and the media should focus on it.

"Our country is gaining more attractiveness; more investors come to Georgia. A few days ago I had a meeting with China’s one of the largest company's leadership. This is a company operating in 108 countries and its investment portfolio amounts to a few tens of billions of dollars. We discussed with them implementation of strategic projects, such as the Anaklia port and the Rikoti new road. A lot of important things are being done in our country and the media should focus on it.

“So, to our dear representatives of the media and our dear opponents, we should focus on the progress as this country belongs not only to our government. It belongs to everyone - our citizens, our children, the next generations, and any unnecessary noise in the end will just damage the interests of our country,” said the Prime Minister.

According to him, the government has problems in providing information to the population.

"It is especially difficult to hear criticism from the United National Movement party, which transferred all of our strategic objects to Russia. And they were also going to sell our gas pipeline. Given all this, it is surprising that Kakha Kaladze's sole meeting with Gazprom representatives became ground for noise and commotion.

“There is a problem of providing information to people about the government’s programs. This is done not only by Rustavi 2, but also by Imedi, Maestro and the Public Broadcaster. They are not interested in covering important events,” he said.

The PM said the government was not going to interfere in the TV channels’ business despite their 'incorrect' rhetoric. (IPN)