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High Number Prisoners Is Still a Problem in Georgia


Lana Giorgidze 

On March 15, the Council of Europe published its Annual Penal Statistics about convicts/persons serving non-custodial sanctions. 47 out of 52 member states participated in the survey of the Council of Europe.

The survey consists of two spaces. The first space is about prison population and reviews the state of convicts and conditions in custodies. The second space is focused on the persons serving non-custodial sanctions and measures. 

Both reports have the common goal of ensuring as much as possible the collection, analyses and interpretation of reliable data through a common methodology. About 80% of the probation services of the responding countries are placed under the authority of the national Ministry of Justice.

According to the survey, in the period between 2014 and 2015, number of the prison population in Europe received at 6.8%, however, high number of the prison population is still a challenge in 15 CoE member states. According to the survey, 33, 3% of penitentiary establishments are overcrowded. 

According to the report, in 2015, there were 1 404 398 persons in the custody throughout Europe that is 7% less than previous report period. The report states that average age of prison inmates was 35 in 2015 that is higher in comparison to 2012, when the average age was 34. 

According to the CoE report, women made 5.2% of the prison population in 47 CoE member states that is 0.2% higher than in 2014.

According to the report, in 2015, there were 10 242 convicts in Georgia; 320 of them were women. The survey reads that in 2015 there were no female underage convicts in Georgia; as for the male convicts under 18, their number was 52. The highest number of women prisoners – 52 142 was recorded in the Russian Federation. There were no women prisoners in San Marino; as for Lichtenstein, there was only one woman prisoner in their custody. Turkey and Russia had the highest number of underage female convicts (76 and 49 respectively). 

According to 2015 data, 10, 8% of convicts were aliens – it is fewer than in 2014, when their number was 13, 3%. The number of alien prisoners in the countries surveyed by the CoE differed from 0.9% (Romania) to 100% (San-Marino).

In its annual report on the persons serving non-custodial sanctions the Council of Europe draws particular attention to the sanction terms. The report reads that the shortest prison term – less than one year, was used in case of 13,5% of convicts in 2015 that is lower than in 2014 (15,2%). The most frequently imposed term varied between 1 and 3 years that was imposed on 24, 2% of convicts. As for the longest terms, according to the report, it was 10 and more years that was imposed on 11% of convicts and is almost equal to the data from 2014 (12%) and 2013 (11%).

In Georgia, according to the CoE survey report, in 2015, 92 convicts were sentenced to 20-years imprisonment terms. 77 convicts were sentenced to life-term imprisonment. According to the survey report, the most often committed crimes are: drug-offence (18,7%), thievery (16,2%), murder (13,2) and robbery (12,6%).

In the report period, the index of prison population was significantly reduced in Greece (-18,8%), in Croatia (-10,2%), in Denmark (-11,9%), in Northern Ireland (-9,7%), in the Netherlands (-9,5%), in Lithuania (-8,8%), in Romania (-8,6%) and in Slovenia (-8,2%). The index was significantly increased in Georgia (+20,5%), in Macedonia (+12%), in Turkey (+11,6%), in Czech republic (+11,4%) and in Albania (+10,3%).

According to the CoE’s survey, there were no amendments done in the criminal law in Georgia in 2015. 7 convicts were amnestied, 613 convicts were pardoned in Georgia. As for collective pardoning, similar fact was not observed. 
Public Defender of Georgia describes the situation in the Georgian penitentiary establishments in his annual report – National Preventive Mechanism 2015, where the conditions of the convicts were analyzed. According to the report, in most establishments, prisoners are not allocated standard living space of 4 square meters, as required by the Imprisonment Code of Georgia.

“There are problems with securing natural and artificial ventilation, sanitary-hygienic conditions and privacy in sanitary facilities. Prisoners do not have the infrastructure necessary for physical exercise in the yards in closed establishments,” the report of the Public Defender’s Office reads.

The report of the CoE states that alien convicts make up 10,8% of prison population in Georgia. The Georgian Ombudsman also speaks about the problems of alien convicts and representatives of ethnic or religious minority communities. He states that those prisoners have problem of language barrier. Alien prisoners mostly do not have information about their rights. In penitentiary establishments, besides communication, they have problem to get medical services that is mostly caused by language barrier. In 2015, according to the statistics provided by the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia, 3 892 out of total 10 242 convicts received physical injuries in penitentiary establishments.

Georgian nongovernmental organizations also report about the problems in penitentiary establishments. According to the NGOs, prisoners still have problems to have access to healthcare, to have communication with family members and human rights defenders; adequate living and sanitary conditions are not provided for the inmates with disabilities. 

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