Wednesday

5th Oct 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

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.

News in Brief

  1. Russia's stand-in EU ambassador reprimanded on Ukraine
  2. France warns over incoming eighth Covid wave
  3. EU adds Anguilla, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos to tax-haven blacklist
  4. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation
  5. Greece to unveil proposal for capping EU gas prices
  6. Four dead, 29 missing, after dinghy found off Canary Islands
  7. Orbán: German €200bn shield is start of 'cannibalism in EU'
  8. Lithuania expels top Russian diplomat

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. EU debates new pandemic-type loans to deal with crisis
  2. MEPs condemn EU Commission 'leniency' on Hungary
  3. Czech EU presidency wants asylum pledges to be secret
  4. European navies must stay on Suez trade routes, EU diplomats warn
  5. Macron's 'European Political Community' — how could it work?
  6. EU adopts common charger law, forces iPhone redesign
  7. Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy
  8. EU wants probe into alleged war crimes by Azerbaijan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us