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Tea Tsulukiani sends Ombudsman’s report to Prosecutor's Office for investigation

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Wednesday, January 22
Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani criticized Nino Lomjaria in response to the Ombudsman's report. As Tsulukiani said, Lomjaria did not meet the prisoners in person.

On January 21, the Public Defender presented a special report to the Parliament. It points to the existence of a so-called criminal subculture in prisons. In response to Nino Lomjaria, Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said the ombudsman's reports were “based on stories brought from prison by the ombudsman’s staff.”

The Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, responded to the Public Defender's statement regarding the existence of the so-called criminal subculture in prison.

“This is a public defender who does not visit prisons. In 2018, Ms. Nino herself visited jail for only four times; she visited the seventh facility only when it was empty. In 2019, Ms. Nino's number of visits and visits to prisoners is zero,” said Tsulukiani.

She also noted that the Deputy Ombudsman was 'super active' and that many staff members of the Public Defender's Office often went to prison to study the needs of prisoners.

“I am proud to be the Minister of the Georgian Dream, the first Minister of Justice to administer the penitentiary system and to make prisoners part of society before they are released. These people in Gldani prison have the opportunity to get out of the cell in the morning, work, earn some money and go back to their cells in the evening,” noted Tsulukiani.

Lomjaria responded to the criticism of lawmakers when presenting the report to parliament and said that the ruling team had been criticizing the report before 2012, and not the facts cited in it.

“I would make some parallels of today's discussions with similar ones until 2012 when members of parliament were dissatisfied with the report itself and criticized the report more than the situation in prisons,” noted the public defender.

The Ombudsman says that, to her impression, lawmakers still view the Ombudsman's work as critical, not the facts cited in the report.

According to the Public Defender, the monitoring found that informal governance among prisoners was characterized by physical and severe psychological violence. Psychological violence mainly manifests itself in extortion, humiliation, and exclusion.

The Ombudsman estimates that overcoming informal governance requires the development of a multi-component strategy, with the state first of all preventing delegated authority to informal leaders and fulfilling the duty of maintaining order and security.

The Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia oversees the observance of human rights and freedoms in Georgia. It advises the government on human rights issues. It also analyses the state’s laws, policies, and practices, in compliance with the international standards, and provides relevant recommendations.