CPT Conducts an Ad Hoc Visit to “Vivamedi” Clinic

A delegation from the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) is currently on an ad hoc visit to Georgia to investigate the penitentiary healthcare issues in the “Vivamedi” clinic.

It is believed that the main purpose of the delegation’s unplanned visit is to examine the health condition of the imprisoned ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili. According to Radio Tavisupleba, Saakashvili’s lawyer Shota Tutberidze said, that the committee members met with Saakashvili on March 26. However, the details of the meeting are not known. The administration of the “Vivamedi” clinic said that the committee had requested full medical histories of Saakashvili and other prisoners and that all the documents the clinic could provide had already been submitted to them.

In addition on March 25, CPT members met with Deputy Public Defender Giorgi Burjanadze, his colleague, and six members of the Mikheil Saakashvili health research council under the Public Defender. “A planned visit by the CPT was due to take place this year or next, as part of the 4-5 year cycle. However, this unscheduled visit is already a very important statement and signal that there is a problem,” – Burjanadze told “Radio Tavusupleba”.

The committee members visiting Georgia are Hans Wolff from Switzerland, who serves as the CPT’s First Vice-President and is a medical doctor; Vytautas Raskauskas from Lithuania, who is a psychiatrist and consultant psychiatrist at the Dispute Commission of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour; and Marie Kmecova from the Czech Republic, who is a lawyer and senior advisor at the NPM (National Preventive Mechanism) for the Office of the Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsman).

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture carries out planned visits to Member States every 4-5 years but can make additional ad hoc visits when necessary. Two such visits have already been made to Georgia, including the first in 2012 to investigate the “Prison Abuse Case,” and the second in 2021 following the Public Defender’s Office release of the information on the existence of the criminal subculture and its influences in prisons. The reports from these visits were published in August 2013 and June 2022, respectively.

Notably, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture was established in 1989 to monitor the implementation of the “European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” Its purpose is to monitor how people are treated in various facilities, including prisons, juvenile detention centers, police stations, immigration detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, and social welfare homes. The CPT delegation has unrestricted access and freedom of movement in detention centers and sends a detailed report to the concerned state after each visit. The committee requests a detailed response to the issues raised in the report and engages in a dialogue with the States concerned. In Georgia, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for resolving logistical issues relating to the CPT’s visit and for providing replies after the report. In the case of unscheduled visits, the Committee informs the Ministry of Justice a few days in advance.

According to the CPT’s rules, a report on an unscheduled visit must be written within 2-4 months, but it may not be published immediately. Georgia is not among the countries that subscribe to the automatic publication of CPT reports. This means a longer waiting period before publication. Based on previous cases, it could take 10-13 months for Georgia’s unscheduled visit report to be published.

As per protocol, the committee members do not provide any comments to the media.

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