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Detention Settings of Georgia – Institutions Where Inmates Get Better Or Pass Away

October 6, 2009

Ekaterine Chachua

Several commissions and department were set up at the Ministry of Penitentiary, Probation and Legal Aid to assist prisoners; however, their rights are still breached. It is fact that methods of medical treatment of sick prisoners to avoid various infections are ineffective. The working plan of the Ministry is inadequate. Non-hygiene conditions in the cells, poor nutrition and incorrect medical treatment result into various infections like tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, C hepatitis, etc. Many prisoners and family members of the inmates applied to the Human Rights Center for help.

Convicted Gia Saginadze serves his term in Gldani Prison in Tbilisi. His family members claim Saginadze has health problems. His family does not live in Tbilisi and learn about his health problems from Valeri Dzagnidze who is their relative.

“Nobody tells me how he is treated, though I know his health is getting worse day by day,” said Valeri Dzagnidze. “I know he is given painkillers but it is not treatment for his diseases.”

Gia Saginadze was arrested on December 25, 2007 and was sent to prison for 9 years and 9 months. On January 30, 2008 regional expertise of Adjara Autonomous Republic concluded that Saginadze has chronic C Hepatitis, HIV/Aids, devolution syndrome. His health is extremely poor.

On February 29, 2008 lawyer Nemsitsveradze submitted motion to the Kutaisi Appeal Court and requested his release because of health conditions. The motion was not satisfied because the expertise conclusion did not state the convicted could not serve his term because of poor health.

Attorney of Saginadze Guram Sharia stated that according to the article 13 of the resolution N 72/n issued in 2003 by the Ministry of Healthcare convicted is released from imprisonment if s/he is ill with:

1. Infections or parasitic illnesses resulted from HIV/AIDs such as C3 category, terminal stage.
2. Cancer, C3 category, terminal stage resulted from the HIV/Aids.
3. Illness resulted from the HIV/Aids like Dementia, devolution syndrome, C3 Category, terminal stage

Gia Saginadze had his health conditions worsened during the imprisonment. After he was taken to Gldani Prison from Ksani Jail Saginadze got sick with contusion. It was necessary to place him in jail hospital and he serves his term in the hospital now.

According to the attorney the health conditions of the convicted is aggravated by the fact that blood circulation in the brain is violated and the prisoner could not attend the trial at the Appeal Court because of his poor health.

Representative of the Penitentiary Department Mikheil Dzagirashvili said that Saginadze was seriously ill before imprisonment too; though it did not hinder him from committing crime and it should not prevent him from serving the term either. The above-listed illnesses are not enough ground to release the convicted and consequently the appeals will not be satisfied either.

Case of convicted Kharaishvili also attracted the attention of the Human Rights Center among submitted complaints about detention settings.

Robert Kharaishvili has cancer on his throat; after the operation a pipe was inserted in his throat. Medical examination showed that his health was burdened by the following illnesses: C Hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs. After the operation he was sent back to Gldani jail hospital. Kharaishvili’s lawyer said the prison administration decided to return the convicted back to the jail hospital because it was difficult to find personal bailiff for him and he did not need medical treatment in the ordinary hospital any longer. Prison doctors confirm that Kharaishvili’s health is really very poor. Besides that, the prisoner is discontent with medical treatment because doctors change his bandages late; pus is coming from his wounds and he suffers from pains. Although painkillers were injected into him, injection place got swollen and nobody treats him. Doctors deny the accusations of Kharaishvili and say they do their utmost to help the convicted. “The state does not allow us to postpone the sentence of the prisoners. It is necessary to provide complex expertise conclusion but it is expensive (it costs 700 GEL approx. 350 Euro); the family of the prisoner cannot afford the sum and the government is not obliged to fund the expertise either. Kharaishvili has already served 2/3 of his sentence and he can be released in accordance to the law,” said the attorney.
“My mother has not seen my brother for 20 years,” said the brother of the convicted, “after detention in Russia he was deported to Georgia for trial. Everybody knows that he will not survive in such conditions.”

Today, tuberculosis and pneumonia are the most common diseases in the detention settings of Georgia and they become the reason for the mortality among prisoners.

According to the statistics, 39 out of 101 inmates die; the mortality is highest among prisoners with the age from 21 to 31. “Infections spread because of poor hygiene in the cells and poor nutrition,” said medical expert Levan Labauri.

“My son is 20 years old; he is in Kutaisi Prison N 2 in pretrial detention; only one month has passed and today I was supposed to meet him for the first time; I wanted to give him parcel too. My son was so week that two bailiffs brought him to the meeting room. He said the prison doctor examined him and said he has pneumonia. I did not have money to buy medicines for him at the place and besides that I did not know what to buy. The doctor was not in prison but there was a doctor among visitors and he suggested me the medicines for my son.”

“The prison administration returned the medicines in ampoules because it was forbidden. I do not know how my son feels now. I can meet him only once a month though I know he received medicines,” said mother of one of the prisoners who preferred to keep her name anonymous.

The Human Rights Center already wrote about Paata Khokhashvili, head of Gori Tank Battalion who was arrested for participation in the mutiny on the Mukhrovani Military Base on May 5, 2009. Paata Khokhashvili was wounded last year during the Georgian-Russian war as a result of shell-explosion. He had his head and backbone seriously injured. Tsira Javakhishvili, attorney of Khokhashvili, said that health conditions of Khokhashvili worsened in prison. He has injured third and fifth bone of spine and it might cause his disability. Physic-therapy is necessary for the prisoner and similar procedures cannot be carried out in the detention setting. “We could not even send painkillers to him. Now we have learned that prison doctor prescribed two painkillers a day for Khokhashvili. His health conditions got worse day by day. He has lost 30 kilos in prison. We could not even get hold of the list of painkillers he is taking. During the last meeting he had signs of hepatitis too,” said Javakhishvili.

We applied to the Ministry of Penitentiary, Probation and Legal Aid to speak about the above-listed problems. Representatives of the health department of the Ministry said illnesses like tuberculosis shall be cured within the national program. The sick inmates are placed in separate cells and if their health conditions get worse they are sent to Ksani jail hospital. “One month ago the cases were sent to the health department; before that medical center of the penitentiary department and Insurance Company “Aldagi” were in charge of this problem. The recently established department is not fully designed yet and we work on the reform policy; so we cannot assist the prisoners yet. We receive complaints but since there is no corresponding legal document we cannot assist them. Within a month we will have more rapid and adequate system of reaction on these problems. We will start our work at full speed from January, 2010. Before that we will finish our work on t conception,” said Nino Museridze, head of the health department of the Ministry.