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In Quotes: Int'l Reactions to Georgia Prison Abuse
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Sep.'12 / 01:21

(UPDATE: text adds a statement of PACE President)

Below is a round-up of international reactions to videos showing beating and rape of inmates in Gldani prison No.8 in Tbilisi suburb.

Spokesperson of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton – Sept.20
“The High Representative is appalled by the shocking footage of abuses committed against inmates in Gldani prison. She recalls that all countries are obliged to comply with the unconditional prohibition of any form of torture and ill-treatment. She notes that the Government has taken the initial steps to address this matter and stresses that it is of vital importance that these and other incidents are thoroughly and transparently investigated and that those responsible are held to account.”

Statement of the UN Office in Georgia – Sept.20
“The United Nations is dismayed by the recently disseminated television footage of human rights violations in the penitentiary system of Georgia. We urge the authorities to urgently address every case of inmates’ physical abuse and ill-treatment, and to ensure a prompt, impartial and transparent investigation into the matter. We also remind that Georgia is a state party to a number of universal human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which obligate the state to treat all persons deprived of their liberty with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”
  
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Riccardo Migliori – Sept.20
“The images of prisoner abuse in Georgia are enough to shock the conscience. I am appalled by the conduct on display in prison number 8 and I expect full prosecutions of those who carried out the abuse as well as those responsible in high positions who allowed it to happen – both to ensure justice for the victims and to demonstrate that there is no culture of impunity in Georgia. It is horrifying to see such inhuman treatment taking place anywhere in the world, but seeing such outrageous conduct taking place in a participating State of the OSCE I find especially disturbing. Georgia should remember its obligations to uphold human rights as a member of the OSCE family, and I welcome the news that several prison officials have been arrested in relation to the abuse, as well as President Mikheil Saakashvili's assurances that those responsible will face the strictest punishment."

Co-Rapporteurs from Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe – Sept. 20
“Such practices are unacceptable in a Council of Europe member State, therefore we welcome the swift reaction of the authorities. We expect that the authorities will now conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into these abuses, as well as into the structural question of how they could take place despite warnings from such respectable institutions as the Georgian Human Rights Defender. All perpetrators, including those that have abetted or condoned such crimes, should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

PACE President Jean-Claude Mignon - Sept.20
“I was shocked and horrified to see media images of prison guards violently assaulting inmates in a prison in Georgia. These intolerable atrocities took place in a Council of Europe member state. President Saakashvili has announced his intention to punish the culprits. I hope that all those at all levels who bear any responsibility in this appalling affair will be identified and punished according to the law. The recommendations from the Council of Europe’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which regularly monitors the way in which persons deprived of their liberty are treated in our member states, should serve as a guide to the Georgian authorities so that situations of this kind never recur”. (On September 19 Council of Europe’s Head of Office in Tbilisi Caterina Bolognese had a meeting at the Foreign Ministry in order to convey to the Georgian authorities the CoE's concerns and to request certain clarifications)

The U.S. Embassy in Georgia – Sept.19
“We share the shock and revulsion of all Georgians at the terrible acts reflected in the images that came to light yesterday.  We note the Government has launched an investigation into this matter.  As the Public Defender has noted in his own reporting and we have noted in our annual human rights reports, abuse of prisoners is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.  We urge that the Government conduct this investigation in a thorough and transparent manner and ensure that all those responsible are brought to justice as soon as possible.”

EU Delegation in Georgia – Sept.19
“The EU Delegation is shocked by the appalling footage of abuses committed against inmates in Gldani prison. It is of vital importance that these and other incidents are thoroughly and transparently investigated and that those responsible are held to account. Ill-treatment of prisoners is a very serious Human Rights violation, as the Public Defender has declared, and we continue to demand that the Georgian Authorities make every effort to address such human rights violations effectively.”

Statement by Amnesty International - Sept.20
“Amnesty International is deeply concerned by the emergence of video footage depicting the beating and rape of inmates at a Tbilisi jail by prison staff on 18 September... Amnesty International is concerned that the torture exposed in the tapes may be indicative of a more widespread practice than the authorities have been prepared to acknowledge to date... In light of the investigative failures referred to by civil society organisations, the Public Defender and opposition parties, there should also be a full and impartial investigation into why the General Prosecutor’s Office has failed to find and punish responsible figures accused of human rights violations in recent years.”

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