Special Reports

Special Report on Requests/Complaints Mechanism in Penitentiary System of Georgia

The study into requests/complaints procedure and the level of trust and attitudes of inmates towards it is implemented for the first time ever in Georgia. It is worth noting that the study involves sociological1 and legal components. Within the framework of this study, a special preventive group conducted a survey of inmates in 14 penitentiary facilities through applying questionnaires that were developed in advance. The normative base regulating requests/complaints procedure and internal monitoring was analyzed in the context of international standards. The study aimed to identify whether safe, available, confidential and impartial requests/complaints procedures are ensured to complainants; also, whether requests/complaints are responded to in a timely manner and the decisions taken on them are substantiated.

As a result of studying reliability for 2015 and effectiveness of request/complaint handling mechanism, a number of issues were identified. It was found that self-evaluation of prisoners regarding knowledge of complaint lodging right and handling procedure is much higher compared to objective knowledge of prisoners.

Existing practice of informing prisoners regarding rights cannot ensure appropriate awareness of prisoners with regard to either general rights of prisoners or particular right to lodging a request/complaint and handling procedure. In accordance with evaluation of Special Prevention Group information regarding their rights and complaints handling procedure is regularly unavailable to prisoners. There are no lists of prisoners’ rights, including information on right to file a request/complaint and handling procedure at any corridors or

The study implemented within the framework of the project aimed at analyzing the normative base regulating requests/complaints procedure and internal monitoring and its practical enforcement in the context of international standards, assessing the level of awareness of this procedure among inmates and the latter’s’ attitudes towards it. The ultimate goal of the project was to develop corresponding recommendations.

The study implemented within the framework of the project aimed at analyzing the normative base regulating requests/complaints procedure and internal monitoring and its practical enforcement in the context of international standards, assessing the level of awareness of this procedure among inmates and the latter’s’ attitudes towards it. The ultimate goal of the project was to develop corresponding recommendations.

An effective mechanism of handling requests/complaints and monitoring in penitentiary institutions ensures the respect of inmates’ rights and represents a fundamental guarantee against ill-treatment. The absence of such mechanism adversely affects the order and safety in penitentiary institutions. In conditions of inadequate response to requests and complaints, prisoners often resort to extreme forms of protest – hunger strikes and self-harm.

A sociological survey component was envisaged within the monitoring to analyze requests/complaints handling procedure in penitentiary institutions and assess attitudes of prisoners towards this procedure. A sociological survey component was envisaged within the monitoring to analyze requests/complaints handling procedure in penitentiary institutions and assess attitudes of prisoners towards this procedure.

This study was prompted by the information available to the Office of Public Defender, which indicated about certain significant problems in requests/complaints handling mechanism and internal monitoring. The study was implemented with the financial support from Open Society Georgia Foundation within the project Promotion of Complaints Mechanism and Internal Monitoring in Penitentiaries.

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