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During his speech about the living conditions in Georgian prisons, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, stated: "In the past years, about 40 prisoners were living in one room whilst in larger rooms this number was up to 150. According to the recommendation of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, we increased the living space for prisoners from two square metres to four square metres. In addition, new nutrition standards were set for the prisoners. A new central penitentiary hospital equipped with modern technologies has been opened. The Prevention, Diagnostics and Treatment of Hepatitis C Programme has been enacted in terms of which the state spends millions."

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of this statement.

According to the Law on Imprisonment, active until 1 October 2010, there were two types of living spaces for prisoners – a cell and a dormitory. According to the Code on Imprisonment, active as of today, prisoners in low-risk penitentiary facilities live in dormitories whilst those imprisoned in the closed type or heightened-risk penitentiary facilities are placed in specialised cells. It should be pointed out that until 16 April 2014, the normal living space for prisoners was a minimum of two square metres in semi-open facilities, 2.4 square metres in closed facilities and three square metres in the specialised facilities for juveniles and women. Amendments were made to the Code on Imprisonment on 16 April 2014 according to which the standard living space for prisoners in every type of penitentiary facility was set at a minimum of four square metres and three square metres for pre-trial detention prisoners.

The Public Defender of Georgia monitors the situation in penitentiary facilities. Hence, in order to find out whether or not 40 and 150 prisoners did indeed live in a single room in the past years we addressed the Public Defender’s Office.

According to the Public Defender’s Office, the so-called barracks (dormitories) were especially crowded in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The 2011 Report of the Public Defender’s Office points out that a total of 588 places for prisoners were envisaged in the two-story Ksani 15th

Penitentiary Facility. This facility has one room on the first floor and four rooms on the second. The living space in these barracks comprises 913 square metres. If we divide the number of rooms allocated for the prisoners by their actual number, it becomes evident that 117 prisoners were living in one room with a personal living space of 1.55 square metres allocated for each prisoner. This shows that the Code on Imprisonment, active in 2011 (providing for a minimum of two square metres of living space for each prisoner), was being violated.

The problem of crowded barracks and poor living conditions was especially severe in the 1st Ortachala facility (closed now), 9th (Matrosov), 10th (closed now), 14th (Geguti), Ksani 7th (15th now), 1st Rustavi (16th now) and 2nd Rustavi (17th

now) facilities.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, after its visit to Georgia from 19 to 23 November 2012, addressed the Government of Georgia with a recommendation to immediately make legislative changes which would provide for a minimum of four square metres of living space for each prisoner. It should be pointed out that according to this recommendation, the Code on Imprisonment was amended on 16 April 2014 and the standard living space for prisoners in every type of penitentiary facility was set at a minimum of four square metres and three square metres for pre-trial detention prisoners. Despite the fact that legislative changes were indeed made according to the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the 2014 Report of the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia reads that the living space for prisoners in penitentiary facilities is still not in accordance with the Code on Imprisonment. The official standards are not met in the 7th (from 2 to 3.6 square metres), 15th and 2nd facilities as well as in the 8th, 14th, 16th and 17th (

from 2.2 to 3 square metres) where living space standards for the prisoners in a number of cells have not been met. However, the situation has been improved as compared to the previous years.

The issue of nutrition for prisoners and pre-trial detention prisoners is regulated by the 20-25 May 2011 joint Directive of the Minister of Corrections of Georgia and the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia on the Nutrition and Sanitary-Hygienic Norms of Prisoners and Pre-Trial Detention Prisoners. Amendments to the Directive regarding the changes in food rations have been made four times since 2011. The 2014 Report of the Public Defender’s Office underlines that the food rations have been updated and now include 12 different targeted rations for special-category prisoners, those with health conditions and according to physical activity levels.

According to the information of the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia, the 19th Tuberculosis Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre was updated and equipped with modern technologies in January 2013 whilst the 18th

Treatment Facility for Prisoners and Pre-Trial Detention Prisoners was rehabilitated and re-equipped in July 2014. It should also be noted that according to the Report of the Public Defender’s Office, the funding for penitentiary healthcare has been increased as compared to the previous years. According to the 2014 data, a total of GEL 15,466,000 was allocated for the penitentiary healthcare system and the cash implementation was GEL 13,300,800. According to the Ombudsman’s Report, the Central Penitentiary Hospital has been renovated and opened as a result of which the availability of medical service in penitentiary facilities has been increased.

The Prevention, Diagnostics and Treatment of Hepatitis C Programme was enacted on 1 March 2014 and the penitentiary system was supplied with appropriate medications. A total of 8,711 prisoners were screened in 2014 and about 180 prisoners took the treatment course.  A total of GEL 2.545 million was allocated for the Programme. According to the 2014 Report of the Public Defender of Georgia, these changes are assessed positively. We wrote

about the Prevention, Diagnostics and Treatment of Hepatitis C Programme earlier as well.

Conclusion According to the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia, the problem of living space for prisoners in penitentiary barracks was especially severe from 2008 to 2012. The 2011 Ombudsman’s Report says that a total of four barracks were available in the Ksani 15th

facility housing about 588 prisoners. This means that a minimum of 117 prisoners were placed in one room (the barracks facility). The living space allocated for each prisoner was equal to 1.55 square metres which was contradictory to the standards set out in the Code of Imprisonment.

According to the recommendation of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, living space standards for prisoners were indeed changed. However, despite the fact that the situation has been improved as compared to the previous years, the 2014 Report of the Public Defender’s Office says that the living space standards for prisoners in some of the facilities are still not in accordance with legislation. The legal standards are violated in the 7th, 8th, 14th, 16th, 17th and 15th

penitentiary facilities.

According to the information of the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia, the 19th Tuberculosis Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre was updated and equipped with modern technologies in January 2013 whilst the 18th

Treatment Facility for Prisoners and Pre-Trial Detention Prisoners was rehabilitated and re-equipped in July 2014. In addition, nutrition standards for prisoners have been changed and now comprise 12 different targeted rations.

The Prevention, Diagnostics and Treatment of Hepatitis C programme in the penitentiary system was enacted on 1 March 2014 and a total of GEL 2.545 million has been allocated for its implementation.

FactCheck concludes that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.