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“Death Export” – New Term in Public Defender’s Report


Bela Zakaidze, Interpresnews

Today, Public Defender of Georgia Giorgi Tughushi will publish the Report on Human Rights Situation in Georgia in 2010. The document with about 700 pages will be uploaded on the official website of the Public Defender’s Office www.ombudsman.ge. Giorgi Tughushi will send a report to the chairman of the parliament of Georgia Davit Bakradze today. Giorgi Tughushi gave an exclusive interview about the report to the Interpresnews.

-2010 Report reflects all facts of human rights violations which were studied by the Public Defender’s Office in 2010.

The report will stress out those general trends which were particularly urgent in the field of human rights according to the Ombudsman’s opinion.

The report will analyze the current situation in the penitentiary system in details. The activities of the MIA, police and judiciary system will be described in the report as well. We will not leave out the situation about IDPs too. 2010 was quite active year in the field of IDP rights and the trend continued in 2011 too. Detailed information about the monitoring results in orphanages will be published in the report. We carried out thorough monitoring of orphanages throughout Georgia. We were focused on child’s rights. A special chapter was dedicated to women’s rights in our new report; we often stated that women’s rights were not under particular attention in Georgia. This year, we made some researches in this direction. The report also highlights the property rights; we discuss activities of the property right commission and of the investigative bodies in relation with property rights. So, there are several cases which the public defender’s office studied throughout the year. We also highlighted labor rights, dismissal of people from jobs through violated human rights. In most cases, public servants were illegally dismissed from jobs. The report highlights salary arrears in various institutions which have not been reimbursed for the last several years.

-Penitentiary system is the only field where only the monitors of the public defender have access. So, it is interesting what findings in the system are discussed in your report?

-For that particular reason the penitentiary system occupies the most part in our reports. The public defender’s office and its national preventive mechanism are one of the most reliable sources because our researches always rely on the information provided by our own monitors. Improvements are observed in some directions but the situation has worsened in some fields. Some positive steps were taken to improve the infrastructure; a new building was opened in the territory of Ksani jail which significantly improved the living conditions of inmates; however, some prisoners still remain in the old building of the Ksani jail and still suffer from poor conditions. The mortality among prisoners is one of the gravest topics for me as a public defender – the mortality has increased at 50% in comparison to previous year. 142 prisoners died this year; last year their number was below 100.

-What is the reason of this problem?

-One of the main reasons of the mortality among prisoners is tuberculosis as well as heart and various infection diseases. Many prisoners, who died because of tuberculosis, had C Hepatitis too. The medical examination of their bodies proved it. In addition, the problem with regard to tuberculosis increased instead resolution. “Death Export” occupied a serious part in 2010. I use this term in my 2010 report because dead prisoners were taken to public hospitals. Many prisoners, who were taken out of jail hospitals might either die on their way to hospitals or lived only two days in the hospital. The report highlights these facts in details.

-Do you name the responsible people in your report?

-Names of several employees of the penitentiary system are mentioned in my report; those people ill-treated prisoners. The concrete names are written in the chapter about Ill-Treatment.

-Which facts are mostly stressed out in the report?

-We particularly focused on the incidents which occurred in Ksani jail as well as in Geguti prison; some incidents occurred in Rustavi Jail # 6.

-Was the investigation launched on those cases?

-Although investigations were launched on most incidents, none of them were resolved yet. According to my information, nobody was punished for those crimes.

-A separate chapter is usually dedicated to the activities of law enforcement officers in the Public Defender’s Reports. Did you observe any violations of human rights by police officers in 2010?

-We observed several facts of ill-treatment by police officers particularly in the Western Georgia. In some cases, freedom of several people was restricted and they spent long time in police stations; later they were all released. In fact, the freedom of those people was restricted. We also highlighted cases of excessive use of force by police officers in Samegrelo region and Kutaisi. Police officers breached the Ethic Code and there are some facts where police officers committed crimes. In 2010 the public defender sent several cases of torture to the prosecutor’s office and investigations started against concrete police officers though no results yet.

-How can you evaluate activities of judiciary system in 2010?

-Most problems which we highlighted in the second half of 2009 remained urgent in 2010 too. However, there are some new problems which are discussed in the new report. For example; we think the principle of collecting punishments blatantly breaches human rights. We believe that the court unfairly collected and aggravated punishment of several convicted. According to the amendments to the law, instead facilitating the sentence, it was aggravated. The report describes concrete criminal cases which were studied by the public defender during the report year. We again faced problem of validity of interim and final judgments. We can doubt that judges failed to substantiate their verdicts or judgments.

-Or the judgment was not fair?

-We can doubt that the right to fair trial was breached in concrete cases.

-What was the situation about the right to assembly and manifestation in 2010?

-All those facts, which occurred in 2010, were discussed in our report. Among them was dispersal of the veteran’s rally though it occurred at the beginning of 2011. There are various facts which are described in the chapter of the right to assembly and manifestation. For example, the incident in the George Bush Street when Irakli Kakabadze and one more demonstrator were detained. The Public Defender has appealed against the amendment to the Law on Assembly and Manifestations at the Constitutional Court which was already discussed by the Court Plenum and now we are waiting for the judgment. The Public Defender protests amendments to the law about assembly and manifestations. In addition, the assaults of journalists both in the regions and Tbilisi are described in the chapter for the freedom of expression. We studied those cases and condemned them.

-Does the report request criminal responsibility of any political figure?

-We cannot say that in 2010 we observed any cases were concrete governmental officials were responsible. However, the report indicates to several institutions which breached the human rights and concrete public servants who personally breached the human rights. It is too difficult to blame concrete governmental official in any crime; it is difficult to identify concrete person who gave orders but we publish the names of every person, who were mentioned in the complaints of citizens submitted to our office.

-What is the approach of the government to the recommendations and reports of the Public Defender?

-In some cases part of my recommendations were envisaged; but there are some fields where situation is very pessimistic. For example, investigations. Very often, investigations are launched based on our recommendations but the point is how long the investigation lasts and whether it has any positive results. I criticized this problem in my previous report and continue criticism in the new report too.

The penitentiary department envisaged part of my recommendations about medical service but big part of them was neglected and it is mentioned in this report. I think, one reason of the high mortality among prisoners is negligence of our recommendations which I sent to the penitentiary department in 2009. Then I directly stated in my special report that the problem will increase and remain unresolved because the approach to it was wrong. Now I heard a new strategy was worked out; they signed a memorandum with the health ministry and they started effective fight against tuberculosis. We appreciate it but they could do it earlier and could avoid those negative results we had last year. 

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