Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria said on January 20 that a group of criminal strongmen in jails with ties to prison authorities “have been systematically carrying out verbal attacks, threats and aggression” against Ombudsperson monitors over the recent months, aiming to hinder monitoring activities.
This, the Public Defender said, follows the publication of 2020 report, where the Public Defenders office spoke about the re-emergence of “informal hierarchies” inside Georgia’s penitentiary.
The said system of “informal prison hierarchies” work to subdue other prisoners and cover up the cases of abuse, Lomjaria stated.
The Public Defender also reckoned that “public attacks on the Public Defender and illegal actions by the Minister of Justice and the Penitentiary Service” following the said report made it “dangerous” for the Ombudsperson’s monitors to conduct prison monitoring.
Lomjaria called on authorities to raise the issue of liability of the Director General of the Penitentiary Service and of the relevant prison directors.
Ombudsperson further stated that international partners and donor organizations supporting the Special Penitentiary Service, should spent resources on “substantially improving” the current prison system rather than reinforcing it.
The Special Penitentiary Service in response decried the Ombudsperson’s remarks as “unfounded allegations,” stressing that “penitentiary institutions are run by the state and not by criminal authorities.”
Prisoners “dissatisfaction with the Ombudsman over any topic, it is merely their own attitude,” the Special Penitentiary Service underscored.