Public Defender Checks Readiness of Medical Establishment No.18 for Mikheil Saakashvili’s Admission
On October 24, 2021, Public Defender’s representatives checked the readiness of Medical Facility No. 18 for the possible admission of the third President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. The inspection revealed that the situation in the facility, in terms of medical care, does not fully comply with the report or recommendations issued by a multifunctional group of doctors on October 23, 2021, and there are also some safety risks.
Representatives of the Public Defender examined the readiness of the facility in terms of provision of the medical services indicated in the report of the multifunctional group of doctors. The report refers to specific medical interventions and the transfer of Mikheil Saakashvili to a medical facility capable of providing the above services.
Interviews with the administration and medical staff of Medical Facility No. 18, as well as inspection of infrastructure and medical equipment, revealed that the facility has the necessary resources to meet the medical needs of prisoners (including hunger strikers). However, the report issued by the multifunctional group of doctors regarding the medical needs of Mikheil Saakashvili directly refers to the need of implementation of certain medical procedures, which, unfortunately, is impossible to be provided in Facility No. 18. For example, the facility cannot provide magnetic resonance imaging, computerizedtomography or duplex scanning. In addition, the facility does not currently have a resuscitationspecialist, but according to the administration, the relevant specialists are expected to be employed in the near future.
The monitoring made it clear that Facility No. 18 will not be able to provide the medical services indicated by the multifunctional group of doctors and Mikheil Saakashvili will need to be transferred to a civil clinic periodically. Given the fact that it is virtually impossible to fully predict changes in the health condition or aggravation of health of the prisoner who has long been on hunger strike, there may be quite severe or irreparable consequences during the patient's transfer in case of a critical change in the situation.
It should be noted that the Public Defender's detailed review of the lack of medical staff and medical services in Facility No. 18 is provided in the 2020 Report of the National Preventive Mechanism.
In addition to medical services, the Public Defender's Office inspected the ward in which Mikheil Saakashvili is planned to be placed in case of his transfer to Facility No. 18. It should be noted that Penitentiary Establishment No. 12 accommodates prisoners who have conflict of interest with other prisoners (former police officers, military servicemen, officials). Consequently, any kind of contact with other prisoners poses security risks that the penitentiary establishment must avoid, otherwise there will be a violation of prisoner's rights.
All the locations, where the third President of Georgia may have to stay/move to (during admission to the facility, placement in a ward, meeting with lawyers or family members, enjoyment of the right to walk, provision of medical care, making telephone calls, daily/hygienic procedures), were checked during the monitoring on October 24, 2021 and it was found out that although the administration of the facility expresses its readiness to ensure the safety of any prisoner, there are certain risks with respect to Mikheil Saakashvili. The infrastructure and environment fail to exclude the risk of verbal aggression and noise, verbal abuse and psychological pressure by certain groups of prisoners. It will also be problematic for visitors to visit Mikheil Saakashvili, as any entrant, including lawyers, will have to walk through the yard of Facility No. 8, close to buildings where other prisoners are placed, which increases the risk of verbal confrontation and abuse. A similar incident was reported at Facility No. 8 in 2015.
Since it is necessary to go through the yard of Facility No. 8 to get to Facility No. 18 and since Facility No. 18 is located close to the residential buildings of Facility No. 8, we believe that there are risks regarding prisoners’ safety and disorganization of these two facilities. These threats may impede the peace of the prisoners and staff of these facilities, the proper functioning and order of the facilities, which will ultimately affect the situation of all prisoners.
In view of all of the above, as well as the report of the multifunctional group of doctors, we believe that the Ministry of Justice/Special Penitentiary Service should select an alternative medical facility, where it will be possible to provide full and adequate medical services and security for the third President of Georgia.
Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia