Tbilisi. On June 16, 2022, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) published a report on its ad hoc visit to Georgia, which along with a number of pressing issues, focuses on signs of informal criminal governance in prisons.
“It should be noted that the ad hoc visit report of the Committee is in full compliance with the findings of the Public Defender's report regarding the informal governance in the penitentiary system. In the Committee's view, all three semi-open prisons (Nos. 14, 15 and 17) are large and the number of staff fails to ensure full control over the establishments. Inter-prisoner violence is frequent. Recidivists and first-time offenders are placed together. Under such circumstances first-time offenders risk much more being “enrolled”, willingly or not, to the informal “crime academy”.
The delegation was concerned to observe obvious signs of the presence of informal prisoner hierarchy, such as typical symbols visibly placed above cell doors and on cell walls. Further, in all prisons there was a clear disparity in conditions between the cells: whilst most of the prisoners had to live in cramped and rather dilapidated accommodation, some of the inmates enjoyed relatively comfortable conditions, refurbished cells (with parquet or tiled floors) and a lot of non-standard equipment.
A number of inmates confirmed to the delegation the existence of the hierarchy and the collection or rather extortion of money for the illegal prisoners’ fund (“obshchak”). It is also noteworthy that many prisoners appeared clearly afraid to speak with the delegation.
The Public Defender’s Office will continue to monitor the penitentiary system for the purpose of the implementation of the recommendations and findings of both the Public Defender and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture”.