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Prisoners Get Ill with Tuberculosis Because of Negligence from the Prison Administration

26.08.2011

Mariam Imerlishvili

The head of the Legal Clinic of the Human Rights Center Nino Andriashvili said prisoners get ill with tuberculosis in Georgia mostly because of inattention and professional negligence of prison administrations.

More facts of torture and ill-treatment occur in Georgian custodies recently – the human rights defenders and lawyers, who have daily contact with prisoners and get first-hand information about the problems in Georgian penitentiary system, often speak about it.

Nino Andriashvili from the Human Rights Center thinks prisoners get ill with tuberculosis in Georgian custodies mostly because of torture and ill-treatment. She said sick inmates are not timely placed in hospitals so the disease gets worse and acquires more complicated form. There are not proper conditions for the sick prisoner to recover – they do not have normal nutrition, cannot be in the fresh air, etc. In addition, there are cases when sick prisoners are sent back to custodies from jail hospitals before recovery.

Nino Andriashvili’s client, prisoner Rudvik Ovakimyan, serves his term in Rustavi prison # 17. Nowadays he has serious health problems. The lawyer said Ovakimyan had high temperature, insomnia, perspire, lack of appetite and rapid loss of weight – symptoms of tuberculosis - at the beginning of 2011. However, nobody paid attention to the prisoner at the initial stage of illness. Ovakimyan was placed in Tbilisi hospital # 18 only three months later; there he was insulted (“hei, Armenian, cannot you stand even high-temperature?”) and sent back to the custody without medical examination to diagnose the illness. Nevertheless, at that time the disease was not in acute form yet and he could have recovered.

Having returned to the Rustavi Prison # 17, the health conditions of the prisoner worsened. Three months later, Rudik Ovakimyan was suddenly taken to Ksani prison for the prisoners with tuberculosis without any explanations.

The prison’s medical personal diagnosed tuberculosis on him though did not consider he had acute form of disease and sent back to the Rustavi prison soon. By that time, the prisoner already had acute form of the disease.

Soon Ovakimyan was taken to Tbilisi hospital # 18 again.

Nino Andriashvili said there is no proper environment and conditions for the medical treatment of prisoners with tuberculosis. More precisely: patients cannot have a complete rest and can walk in the fresh air only 10-15 minutes per day. Besides, the jail hospital does not have proper food for similar patients.

The Human Rights Center’s lawyer has already petitioned to the Penitentiary Department of the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Aid to impose punishment on prison personnel who participated in the worsening of Rudik Ovakimyan’s health conditions. Besides, the lawyer requests to place the prisoner in the jail hospital in Ksani prison where more adequate environment is created for sick prisoners.

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