Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Georgia
Wednesday, September 22
On September 21, The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published the report on its 4th periodic visit to Georgia, carried out in February 2010. The report has been made public at the request of the Georgian authorities.
The findings from the visit confirmed that the situation as regards the treatment of persons detained by the police in Georgia has considerably improved in recent years, and the CPT has welcomed the determined action taken by the Georgian authorities to prevent ill-treatment Nevertheless, the persistence of some allegations clearly indicates that they must remain vigilant. The CPT has recommended that the Georgian authorities continue to deliver a firm message of “zero tolerance” of ill-treatment, including through ongoing training activities, to all police staff. As part of this message, it should be made clear that the perpetrators of ill-treatment and those condoning or encouraging such acts will be subject to severe sanctions. Further, police officers must be trained in preventing and minimising violence in the context of an apprehension. In its report, the CPT also looks at the issue of investigations into complaints of ill-treatment by the police and recommends that steps be taken to ensure that such investigations fully meet the criteria of an “effective” investigation as established by the European Court of Human Rights.
Turning to prisons, overcrowding was rife in several of the establishments visited. Despite a massive prison-building programme, the continuing increase in the prisoner population undermines the efforts made to create a humane penitentiary system. The CPT has called upon the Georgian authorities to redouble their efforts to combat prison overcrowding by adopting policies designed to limit or modulate the number of persons sent to prison. The Committee has also recommended that the authorities review as soon as possible the norms fixed by legislation for living space per prisoner, so as to ensure at least 4 m? per inmate in multi-occupancy cells in all penitentiary establishments.
In the light of information received during the visit, the CPT has recommended that the management of Prison No. 8 in Tbilisi (Gldani), Penitentiary establishment No. 7 in Ksani and Penitentiary establishment No. 8 in Geguti take appropriate steps to ensure that prison staff do not abuse their authority and resort to ill-treatment.
No allegations of ill-treatment of patients by staff were received during the follow-up visit to the hospital facility of Asatiani Psychiatric Institute in Tbilisi. However, the ever-deteriorating state of the hospital made it unfit for accommodating patients and created conditions which could easily be described as inhuman and degrading. While awaiting the implementation of projects for the transformation of the Asatiani Psychiatric Institute, the CPT has called upon the Georgian authorities to address the most urgent deficiencies as regards patients’ living conditions, and in particular to improve heating throughout the hospital.
At the Institution for persons with mental and physical disabilities in Dzevri, the CPT’s delegation received no allegations of ill-treatment of residents by staff and gained a generally positive impression of residents’ living conditions. However, the Committee has recommended that a systematic and regular evaluation of the residents’ state of health be organised with a view to offering psycho-social rehabilitative activities adapted to their needs. The report also includes an assessment of the legal safeguards applicable to persons placed in a specialised institution.
The Georgian Government is currently preparing its response to the issues raised by the Committee.