Ombudsman Releases Special Report on Treatment of Female Prisoners in Penitentiary Facility №5

On August 1, the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia released a report on the Special Penitentiary Facility No. 5 Penitentiary for Women. The report followed monitoring visits conducted by members of the Special Preventive Group on March 24, 2023, and May 1-2, 2023, to assess the treatment of female prisoners and the implementation of previous recommendations. The visits were reportedly prompted by complaints from inmates about the lack of access to proper hygiene.

The facility was commended for maintaining cleanliness, providing necessary inventory in the cells, ensuring adequate natural and artificial lighting, and having proper central heating systems. The minimum space requirements established by legislation are observed. However, notes the report, challenges remain in ensuring adequate artificial ventilation and continuous water supply, particularly given the climatic conditions.

With regard to medical services, the report found cases where patients had to wait more than a month to see a specialist. The timely transfer of patients to civilian hospitals for medical services remains problematic. In addition, psychiatric care lacks a comprehensive bio-psycho-social approach and mental health screening takes place only once when prisoners are first admitted, rather than on a regular basis. Early diagnosis and prevention of mental health problems are crucial, but are not given sufficient attention.

The Public Defender’s Office notes that although compared to other penitentiary institutions, the facility No. 5 offers more rehabilitative activities and has an ongoing process of individual sentence planning, it lacks sufficient human and material-technical resources to effectively ensure the rehabilitation of inmates.

The report highlights that inmates are not adequately informed about their rights and duties. Both Georgian-speaking prisoners and those speaking foreign languages encounter difficulties in accessing updated legislative and subordinate acts. Many prisoners refrain from filing complaints and instead try to establish positive relationships with prison staff or seek help from fellow prisoners close to the administration. There are also regular inter-prisoner conflicts in the institution.

In the report, the Public Defender provided recommendations for the Ministry of Justice, including the following:

  • Allowing prisoners to spend at least two hours a day outside;
  • Implementing amendments to Order N116 of the Minister of Prisons and Probation of Georgia to increase the frequency of prisoner showers to at least four times a week;
  • Ensuring the privacy of prisoners’ telephone calls;
  • Requiring social workers in the institution to provide oral and written information about prisoners’ rights in both Georgian and foreign languages throughout their stay;
  • Ensuring that consultations with doctors and specialists are scheduled so that patients do not have to wait more than 2 weeks; etc.

The Public Defender of Georgia expresses hope that the report’s recommendations will receive due attention and appropriate measures will be taken to improve the conditions for female prisoners in Establishment No. 5.

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