Sunday

9th Aug 2020

EU condemns Georgia prison rape, torture

  • Georgia's president Mikheil Saakashvili suspended prison guards after video footage released to media show rampant inmate abuse (Photo: European Parliament)

The EU on Thursday (20 September) condemned the physical and sexual abuse of Georgian prison inmates which has sparked mass protests in Tbilisi and several other cities.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said she was "appalled by the shocking footage of abuses committed against inmates."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The video was leaked to Georgian media on Tuesday, showing prison guards torturing inmates. In one incident, a prisoner pleaded with guards not to film the scene. He was then raped.

The footage confirmed long-held suspicions that prison abuse and torture is rampant in Georgia's correctional facilities.

The government reacted by temporarily suspending the country's entire prison staff and replacing them with police. Some 15 prison guards linked to the incident have since been arrested.

The affair also prompted prisons minister Khatuna Kalmakhelidze's resignation on Wednesday, followed by Georgia's interior minister Bacho Akhalaia on Thursday.

"Our nation is based on the respect of human rights and human dignity and it will get rid of this ugly violence," said president Mikheil Saakashvili.

His government at the same time insinuated that the incident is part of a larger conspiracy by the opposition to defame Saakashvili in the lead up to elections.

Politicians opposing the incumbent claim such brutality has only increased under his rule.

Saakashvili's policy of clamping down on corruption and crime exploded Georgia's prison population, which is now one of the world's highest with 538 inmates for every 100,000 Georgian citizens, reports the Guardian.

"That such horrible acts occurred just a few kilometers from the Presidential Palace should be unimaginable, but unfortunately this shows the true nature of our leaders," Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the Georgian Dream Coalition, the main opposition movement, said on Thursday.

Saakashvili and Ivanishvili are squaring off in a parliamentary election on 1 October which could eventually unseat the President, who has kept power since the 2003 Rose Revolution.

Saakashvili has been accused of undermining press freedom and firing teachers and other public sector employees sympathetic to the opposition.

The state has also fined the Ivanishvili coalition over $100 million, a sum the Council of Europe, the continent's human rights watchdog, said in August is both "excessive and disproportionate" and undermines "normal political activity by an opposition party."

Amnesty International also in August condemned "what appears to be politically targeted violence" geared towards independent journalists and opposition leaders.

For his part, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary-general of Nato, warned in early September that the October elections will test the Nato-aspirant countr's democratic credentials.

Georgia is keen to join the alliance after it launched in late 2008 a large-scale assault in its breakaway region of South Ossetia. The attack sparked a five-day war with Russia and resulted in hundreds of causalities.

Five EU foreign ministers arrived in the country on Monday to help monitor the elections.

Interview

Georgia's PM lays out European 'dream'

Georgia's Prime Minister tells EUobserver he wants to transform Georgia into a "typically European" society and into a Dubai-type business hub between Europe and Asia.

EU wary of violence in Belarus election

EU states have voiced fear of violence during Belarus elections on Sunday, as president Aleksander Lukashenko seeks to maintain his third decade in power.

News in Brief

  1. Germany breached rights of Madeleine McCann suspect
  2. EU offers trade perks to Lebanon
  3. Germany charges ex-Audi chiefs on emissions cheating
  4. UK quarantines Belgium, as European infections climb
  5. Bulgaria's Borissov mulls resignation
  6. EU prolongs anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel
  7. Swedish economy contracted less during April to June
  8. EU offers help to Lebanon after port explosion

Feature

The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. EU wary of violence in Belarus election
  2. Iraqis paid €2,000 each agree to leave Greece
  3. EU's most sustainable islands are Danish 'Sunshine Islands'
  4. Worrying rows over future EU chemicals policy
  5. Rainbow flag protesters charged by Polish police
  6. An open letter to the EPP on end of Hungary's press freedom
  7. Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence
  8. Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us