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The observers do not confirm pressure on convicted persons

August 26, 2016
Aleko Tskitishvili

“New so-called prisoner supervisors are appointed in the prisons, who have good relationship with the administration. They are moved from the closed prisons. Their parents are oppressed to convince the relatives to vote for the ruling party in the upcoming elections. The prisoners, who had their terms reduced at 10 and 15 years in 2012, now are promised to be released after the 2016 elections”, - Koba Subeliani, MP of the National Movement, posted the status on his Facebook page. Consequently, the general inspection of the Ministry of Corrections interrogated him. 

“It shows that they have difficulties. They will lose the elections, if they do not do something extraordinary”, - on August 13, MP made another post in social media.

According to the information of the Ministry of Corrections, the general inspection contacted Subeliani on the phone the same day. 

“Subeliani did not name any concrete person or case. He just shared general information and said  he had received the information from the father of a prisoner”, - the statement of the Ministry of Correction reads. Koba Subeliani arrived at the Ministry only four days later, on August 17, - “during the meeting, he did not name any person or fact. He did not say anything tangible either over the phone, or during the meeting. The MP declared that he received the information from the father of a prisoner, who hides the name of the son, because of possible threat and possible negative outcome for him. Besides, Subeliani said, he had general information about moving so called supervisor prisoners to the prison in Imereti region.. Subeliani underlined that he did not know any concrete name, including so called supervisor or to which prison the latterwas moved to.. 

Koba Subeliani told Human Rights Center that he cannot name the information source – the convicted person’s father, because it may cause problems to his son in the prison. It should be noted that Koba Subeliani received the information only from one source. 

“I totally trust the source. He was talking so convincingly, I do not have reason not to trust him. However, I cannot name him. I told the general inspection the same, but I hinted that the prison lives in the west Georgia. I cannot say anything else. There are not many prisons in the west Georgia, therefore, they can check and investigate what is going on. If they want, they will find the truth very easily. They told me – the minister is personally interested in the case. If the minister is interested, why he did not meet me personally?! I also was minister for 5 years and I know what is “being busy ”. If he were interested, he could meet me in person”, - Koba Subeliani told Human Rights Center. 

The Ministry of Corrections declares it is totally de-political institution and excludes any facts of oppression on the prisoners and their family members: “The Ministry believes that freedom of choice is one of the most important values of our government and it will not allow anybody to restrict that right.  Besides, we address the society, if any political party or single mandate candidate tries to manipulate with similar issues during the meetings, please inform the general inspection of the Ministry of Corrections for prompt and effective response”. 

The Public Defendant Office does not have any information about the oppression of the prisoners. The Ombudsman Office press-center told that the penitentiary establishments are systematically monitored and the Office has direct communication with the prisoners. However, nobody ever mentioned similar facts or have complained. 

The monitoring organizations also do not have the information about the oppression on the convicted persons. The observers state the information spread by Koba Subeliani shall by all means be studied and they will check the information with their sources too. 

According to the acting legislation, a person convicted for minor crime can vote in the parliamentary elections. It is important, to conduct fair and free elections in prisons. 

Center of Development and Democracy (CDD) observes the special election districts, including those opened in prisons. 

“We cannot verify the information about any oppression on prisoners, because we do not have direct communication with the convicted persons before or on the Election Day ”, - Mari Bendeliani, the representative of CDD told By now, the special districts have not been created in the penitentiary establishments yet. Therefore, CDD does not have any information about the situation in the special districts. 

“We observed pre-election periods and polls during2013 Presidential and 2014 Local Self Governmental Elections in the special districts. During the pre-election period, we observe how well prisoners are informed – if the posters of the political parties are placed within the premises, if the members of the special commission are re-trained. During the Election Day itself we observe if the procedures are done according to the law in the district and after the end of voting we follow the election box to the main district, where the votes are counted in the end of the day. We monitor to ensure privacy of voting by prisoners and prison staff members.. During the monitoring of the above mentioned elections (including the second tour of the local self-governmental elections), we did not notice the pressure on the convicted persons or employees of the prison in the special districts”, - Mari Bendeliani said.

Human Rights Center appeals to the citizens through social advertisement if their constitutional rights are violated during the pre-election period, immediately address the organization, in order to promptly response to them.