State Inspector on Saakashvili’s Treatment, Personal Data

The State Inspector’s Service (SIS), a body authorized to monitor personal data protection and probe abuse of power, weighed in today offering clarifications about the rights of Mikheil Saakashvili, jailed ex-President who has been on a hunger strike for 36 days.

The statement comes amid heated controversies as the government keeps insisting on transferring Saakashvili to a prison hospital if his condition worsens. The former President, his lawyers, doctor, and the Public Defender disagree and demand his transfer to a civilian clinic, citing multiple risks.

The State Inspector Service said that the penitentiary establishment is obliged to respect the inmate’s will to refuse food, but it still has “a positive obligation to protect the life and health of the person deprived of liberty through effective and prompt actions.”

Improper measures taken by relevant authorities during a hunger strike of a person deprived of liberty may otherwise “give a rise to human rights violation risks,” the agency warned.

Citing case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the Service stressed the right of an inmate to receive timely and necessary medical treatment, on par with services accessible to the general public.

While this does not always mean transferring inmates to the best medical facility outside the penitentiary institution, “unjustified refusal” to place them in a civil hospital when necessary may pose risks of violating Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, according to the statement.

The agency said that worsening health of the inmate alone is “clearly insufficient” to allege ineffective treatment in the prison facility, but sharp deterioration of health condition “may call into question” the adequacy of medical services provided on-site.

The State Inspector further clarified the privacy rights of the hunger-striking ex-President, saying that health-related personal data are sensitive and subject to strict confidentiality rules.

A person who does not expect information about his/her health to remain confidential may abstain from receiving medical treatment or sharing important information with medical personnel, which may result in failure to provide adequate treatment, the agency noted.

The State Inspector said disclosing “general information” about the state of health may be justified due to the public interest, but warned against sharing details. Even if the person in question consents to disclose the details, they should be shared to a minimal extent, for a “clearly defined legal purpose” and without threatening the person’s dignity, according to the statement.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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