Recommendation concerning Discrimination on Grounds of Citizenship
On 24 February 2016, the Public Defender of Georgia addressed the Government of Georgia, the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Corrections with a recommendation to study the fact of discrimination on grounds of citizenship and degrading treatment of a prisoner in the penitentiary institution N17.
Convict K.K. is suffering from hepatitis C, liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and diabetes. It is recommended to treat him with the Sofosbuvir medicine, which is available within the State Program on First Phase Measures for Management of Hepatitis C. The convict was refused to be treated, as he is not a citizen of Georgia. The state refuses to involve foreign citizens and stateless persons in the hepatitis C program, or to consider any exceptional cases, in order to protect the safety of medicines.
The convict’s disease is progressive. He faces fatal outcome if he is not properly treated. Since the applicant is imprisoned, he is deprived of the opportunity to provide his own treatment and is depended only on the will of the state. Thus, the goal of protecting the safety of medicines and the technical difficulties, in particular, the fact that the applicant does not have a Georgian ID card, cannot justify the violation of the applicant’s right to health and life.
The Public Defender considers that the applicant’s exclusion from the program represents direct discrimination, since he is under the state control, though cannot enjoy proper medical care due to the fact that he is not a citizen of Georgia.
The Public Defender calls on the Ministry of Corrections and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs to timely ensure involvement of the convict in the State Program on First Phase Measures for Management of Hepatitis C, as an exception, and to treat him with Sofosbuvir.
At the same time, the Public Defender addressed the Government to make changes to the governmental decree so that to make the State Program on First Phase Measures for Management of Hepatitis C available for imprisoned foreign citizens and stateless persons who are in need for treatment.
The Public Defender points out that the right to life and health represents the most important value, violation of which makes protection of other rights and interests senseless.