ECMI Caucasus brings minority rights into the prisons of Georgia

Window bars by Matt ObeeECMI introduces minority rights in the Georgian places of detention. The endeavor is a consequence of the Georgian prison scandal, and it is possible via collaboration with NORLAG.

Following a disclosure of scandalous human rights abuses in the Georgian prisons, ECMI Caucasus cooperates with The Norwegian Mission of Rule of Law Advisers to Georgia (NORLAG). The cooperation with NORLAG makes it possible to introduce minority rights in the Georgian places of detention.

ECMI Caucasus donates relevant literature on minority rights in Georgian and in other languages. The literature introduces to the rights of minorities in judicial proceedings and to other commitments and obligations of Georgia related to the protection of minorities.

The ethnic dimension of prison education

ECMI Caucasus’s prison activity is due to a project funded by NORLAG.

NORLAG funded the first Educational House library in the women’s prison Nr 5 in Rustavi. This pilot project library made it possible for the prisoners to educate themselves. The prisoners got the opportunity to improve vocational skills just as the library meant a possibility of meaningful activity while serving sentences.

The library, which is an analogy to the Norwegian Penitentiary Library, is an open system library. This allows the inmates to choose the books from the shelves themselves. The library has also been equipped with a digital library. This is an absolute novelty in the Georgian penitentiary system. Inmates are able to get engaged in rehabilitation programs as well as in other cultural activities. A special space has been designated to activities of mothers with young children.

This project has brought to the fore that a number of inmates in Georgian prisons belong to different ethnic groups. Some of them do not speak or read Georgian.

The unknown scale of the ethnic dimension

Attempts to analyse the ethnic dimension of the prison population have been dismissed by the previous government’s Ministry of Corrections, Probations and Legal Assistance. The ministry considered an analysis to be irrelevant.

Attempts have been made by ECMI as well as other organizations.

It is hoped for that the new minister will be supporting such analysis. The minister is the former ombudsman of Georgia – Mr. Sozar Subari. In this capacity he established a Tolerance Centre under the auspices of the Ombudsman office. The Tolerance Centre is hosting the Council of National Minorities.

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