Presentation of the Report on the State of Prisoners with Disabilities

On 9 June, the Public Defender of Georgia has presented a special report on the Conditions of Persons with Disabilities in the Penitentiary Establishments, Temporary Detention Isolators and the Institution for Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment, which becomes important also owing to the fact that the Parliament of Georgia ratified the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

It is for the first time in Georgia that the National Preventive Mechanism carried out such monitoring. It is the first special report not only for Georgia, but also for other contracting countries of this Convention.

Trough the period of October – November 2013, the National Preventive Mechanism monitored performance of its obligation in relation to studying the situation of protection of rights of persons with disabilities in the penitentiary institutions, temporary detention isolators and institution for involuntary psychiatric. This report concerns the identified systemic gaps/results of complex analysis of the monitored problems and relevant recommendations.

The monitoring revealed that the state authorities keep no statistics about persons with disabilities; the penitentiary system has no mechanisms for identifying persons with disabilities and evaluating their needs. As a result, penitentiary establishments are not able to provide the minimum standards of accessibility and reasonable accommodation.

Neither the penitentiary system nor the National Center of Mental Health operate any rehabilitation program for prisoners with disabilities and patients; as a result, the condition of patients with disabilities aggravates as the time passes; they are losing their functioning status and are becoming chronic lying patients.

It was paid a particular attention to the use excess amount of psychoactive medications (substances) for non-medical purpose and the subjects on the absence of standard of care of prisoners with disabilities; need of implementation of specialized services of disabilities.

The Monitoring revealed a serious violation of standards of medical and general treatment of patients in the National Center of Mental Health, including the way physical restrains are used in violation of the applicable law. In the National Center of Mental Health, patients are completely isolated in terms of activities and information; for decades, they remain detached from the society as outcasts. In addition, the important problem is long delay of patients with disabilities on involuntary psychiatric treatment (more than 20 years); absence of therapeutic environment; absence of discharge of patient from stationary, etc.

Temporary detention isolators are not meeting appropriate standards in terms of hygiene and maintenance of healthy conditions and they are completely unfit for needs of persons with disabilities.

Many prisoners are indicating that they were seriously injured and become disabled as a result of torture and inhuman actions committed before 2012, but we have not any answers from the States bodies. This situation confirms again the necessity of creation of effective investigative mechanism which is initiated by the Public Defender of Georgia.

The Deputy Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia, Archil Talakvadze has spoken on the current positive changes in the system and underlined that a special medical department will provide a full service for treatment of prisoners with disabilities.

In the near future, the National Preventive Mechanism will carry out follow-up monitoring to compare a previous picture of the state of persons with disabilities with the current one and present the findings of this monitoring to interested public.

* The research wascarried out with the financial support of the Open Society “Georgia Foundation”.

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