A controversial TV footage of prisoners being tortured and sexually assaulted has sparked massive protest in Georgia and drew condemnation from the world’s body.
Reports say angry demonstrations erupted two weeks before a parliamentary election. The protests was evident in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi after footage of the torture was shown on pro-opposition TV channels.
The acts of torture and ill-treatment perpetrated against inmates at a prison and a juvenile detention facility in Georgia were reportedly exposed in at least four videos made public this week.
Today, the United Nations has expressed condemnation of the abuses committed against prisoners in Georgia and urged that the violations be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
“We call on the Government to ensure that all allegations of such human rights violations – and not only the ones exposed in these videos – are promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and that perpetrators are brought to justice.” -Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Mr. Colville says victims of the abuses must have access to the necessary medical and psychological support, as well as redress.
He adds the videos are shocking and were shown on television in Georgia.
He notes that prisoners were being physically and sexually assaulted, humiliated and verbally abused by prison officers.
“There is an absolute prohibition against torture, as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in international human rights law and an obligation on the Government to ensure that perpetrators do not enjoy impunity.” -Mr. Colville
In addition, the UN Office in Georgia was “dismayed” by the footage of human rights violations in the country’s penitentiary system.
“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.” – UN office in Georgia
Reports say a number of legislative amendments adopted in late December last year by the Georgian Parliament are restricting the freedom of association.
The UN has voiced alarm at the increasing climate of fear and intimidation against opposition parties, labour unions and members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Georgia.
The situation of labour unions is reportedly one operating in a very difficult environment. There have been allegations of dismissals of public and private employees for supposedly supporting opposition parties.
Lack of use of bail and the strict zero tolerance policy of the Government has contributed to Georgia having one of the world’s largest prison population.
The country’s judiciary has been known for harsh sentences, a lack of bail and what they called an excessive use of detention.