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“Why Does One Prisoner Die in Jail Hospital Per Day?!” – Strange Reality of the Closed System

19.03.2010
Manon Bokuchava, Kvemo Kartli

There are three detention settings in Kvemo Kartli region – prisons # 1, # 2 and # 6. The latter is not among recently reconstructed detention settings. The government built it. Representatives of the non-governmental organizations, public defender’s office and international organizations attended the opening ceremony of the prison # 6. Everybody assessed the prison positively. They said the building complied with European standards.

Today, we read in the letters sent by the inmate of the prison # 6. “Of course, they do not shoot us here but there is no difference between the death by bullet and death caused by lack of vitamins.”

The number of political prisoners is high in the above-listed prisons. 20 out of the 50 prisoners from the list of political prisoners created by the Georgian NGOs and opposition parties serve their terms in Rustavi prisons.

Two years ago, representatives of the public defender’s office saw naked prisoners in Rustavi prison # 6. The prison guard told the representatives of the public defender that they were hot and took off cloths. The problem of the punishment cell is permanent for Georgian penitentiary system.

“The situation in the punishment cells can be assessed as inhuman because of its location; it is always very hot there and there is smell of fecal substances there. The punishment cell is not air-conditioned and inmates cannot breathe properly. It is noteworthy, that two cells in the building of punishment cell are for prisoners on hunger strike,” the 2009 report of the public defender.

Minister of Penitentiary, Probation and Legal Aid Khatuna Kalmakhelidze often visits Rustavi prison and shows off with the detention setting of European standards.

“All their activities are dedicated to PR campaign. They have put up our menu on the wall for visitors. Person seeing it will dream of being a prisoner,” said political prisoner in his letter to “Utsnobi” (opposition leader) at TV Company Maestro. The prisoner asks the society: “Why does one prisoner die per day in the jail hospital?!”

Penitentiary department continues old activities based on the official information. “There are four buildings in the Rustavi # 2. The detention setting was built in compliance with European standards. Since 2006 various projects were implemented for the social rehabilitation of prisoners. Currently, prisoners study computer office programs in the detention setting. There is a church in the territory of the prison and it is being painted at the moment,” official information of the department.

It is strange why prisoners request to examine physiological conditions of the prison personnel where churches are built and inmates are employed in the prison.

“We often hear and read terrible stories about accidents in penitentiary department because there are employees who have psychological problems and they abuse prisoners, treat them sadistically, insult and degrade them,” wrote a political prisoner from the Rustavi prison.

Visual situation of the Rustavi prison is more or less known to everybody. However, we do not know what is going on behind the walls. On the one hand, they are speaking about the recently opened dentist office in the prison; on the other hand administrations of Georgian prisons forget that prisoners are also human.”

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