This report documents an external evaluation of PRI’s project Increasing Oversight over Georgia’s Anti-torture Commitments and the Compliance with the International Standards funded by the Open Society Foundations. The project was implemented by PRI’s office in the South Caucasus and ran for two years from October 2016 to September 2018. The evaluation was conducted by Levan Nanobashvili in October and November 2018.
The aim of the project was to increase oversight and promote adherence to the international standards and best practice examples in the penitentiary system of Georgia for effective prevention of torture and all forms of ill-treatment. To achieve this aim, the project carried out the following activities:
- Translation and distribution of various guides and tools on the Nelson Mandela Rules into English
- Training workshops for representatives of the Ministry of Corrections and for representatives of the Georgian Ombudsman’s office, including NPM staff on the Nelson Mandela Rules and training for PRI staff, NPM members and local experts on methods for conducting monitoring of penitentiary institutions
- Analysis of Georgian legislation on its compliance with the Nelson Mandela Rules
- Monitoring visits to nine prisons to assess adherence to the Nelson Mandela Rules.
The evaluation assessed the project’s impact, identified intended and unintended outcomes and PRI’s contributions towards these and captured learning and recommendations for future work.
The evaluation made the following findings:
- The project was highly relevant and appropriate for stakeholders in the penitentiary system taking into consideration a high-profile torture scandal in Georgia’s recent history and the government’s declaration to end the use of torture and improve prison standards.
- PRI provides high quality assistance in the eyes of its main stakeholders and is often sought out for assistance outside of the bounds of a particular project.
- Prison managers reported that they have a better understanding of the Nelson Mandela Rules thanks to PRI’s training and receiving a copy of the rules translated in Georgian. The increased awareness of the Nelson Mandela Rules also indirectly contributed to the acceleration of technical renovation of several prisons in Georgia. One respondent from the penitentiary system stated that they were planning to install body scanners which would reduce the need for full strip searches of prisoners, in compliance with the Nelson Mandela Rules.
- The project made a significant impact on psychologists and social workers in the penitentiary system as they had had little training prior to that provided by PRI. Furthermore, training these groups of professionals together provided an opportunity for sharing opinions and experiences.
- Certain factors which are outside PRI’s direct control may influence the sustainability of the project’s impact and achievement of outcomes. Management of the penitentiary system in Georgia changed in 2018 and further changes are expected. There is also a high rate of staff turnover among prison officers due to low pay and very stressful and high-risk working conditions and therefore some of learning points of the training may not have a chance to be properly implemented.
The evaluation makes the following recommendations for PRI’s future work:
- Better planning at the stage of the proposal writing and prior consultations with potential beneficiaries can make future activities more effective.
- Review of the legislation and proposals for legislative amendments can be prepared at the beginning of a project so that the project can have more time to follow up and advocate changes.
- Training activities organized according to risk levels of penitentiary institutions may be very effective and have stronger impact on participants.
- Psychologists and social workers of the penitentiary system of Georgia have limited opportunity for learning foreign experience from their colleagues; therefore, additional trainings and activities will be very important for them.
- PRI has extensive experience and may provide substantial analytical and research assistance to the penitentiary system. One area where the necessity of such assistance was identified during the evaluation is the analysis regarding benefits of creation of small penitentiary institutions.
The evaluation was carried out as part of PRI’s commitment to learning and accountability and to delivering the best projects and services to the people we serve.
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