On 25 July Penal Reform International (PRI)’s South Caucasus office took part in a monitoring visit to Prison No.17 in Rustavi. Monitors met with the prisoners on hunger strike.
Visitors included Nazi Janezashvili from PRI, and representatives of partner organisations, such as Nino Gelashvili and Tamta Vephkvadze from Youth for Justice and Nino Elizbarashvili from Women in Business. A special permit on monitoring was issued by the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia.
Prison No. 17 is semi-open prison with the maximum capacity for 2,744 inmates. 38 prisoners are currently on hunger strike. Two have sewed up their lips with metal wire. Among the strikers there are people with serious health problems, such as heart conditions, AIDS, hepatitis C and tuberculosis.
The main demand of the strikers is for a fair trial and for their sentences to be reconsidered. In addition, they expressed dissatisfaction with the existing and controversial system for parole. Moreover, as some of the prisoners stated, that the absorption principle defined by the Criminal Code has been partially affected on them, or has not affected at all. According to information provided by the detainees, only prisoners whose sentence came into force before October 1 2012 are on strike.
Prisoners with serious illnesses are asking for the operations doctors have prescribed.
Representatives of the organisations explained existing legal mechanisms affecting terms of sentence to the prisoners. However, we believe that the state should take effective measures to ensure the judgments currently in force are reviewed according to the principle of equality and justice.
The monitoring is carried out within the framework of PRI’s project ‘Improving civil society involvement in penitentiary institutions’, funded by Eurasia Partnership Foundation.
These two letters were issued by prisoners on hunger strike in penitentiary establishment No.17
We, prisoners on strike demand that the parole board shall immediately take the right decision and satisfy our requirements. Otherwise, we will address worse and the most extreme forms of protest. We started hunger strike on July 23rd.
Signed by: Zviad Bunturim, Valeri Mekhantsishvili, Irakli nadirashvili, Shalva Robakidze, Lasha Saltkhutsishvili, Roman Bugianishvili, Zviad Naskidashvili, Amirad Shukakidze, Tamaz Orlov
Dated: 25 July 2013
We, the prisoners signing below, started hunger strike. We are victims of illegal verdicts and demand them to be revised immediately. We would like to make it clear, that we will not stop our strike until we get appropriate response and our demand is satisfied. Otherwise, we will address worse and the most extreme forms of protest. We started hunger strike on July 23rd.
Koba Kordzadze, Shalva Mghebrishvili, Irakli Surmanidze, Zaza Nezhashvili, Artur Chirkanov, Shalva Reziashvili, Giorgi Eliashvili, Giorgi Nanikashvili, Giorgi Golaberidze, Valeri Natsvlishvili, Otar Arjevanishvili, Yuri Shemoyan, Gela Qobalia, Vagif Orujov, Shota Janashia, Vyacheslav Voloshin, Giorgi Gegechkori, Giorgi Jalabadze, Otar Varamashvili
Dated: 25 July 2013