Georgia: Doctors’ complicity in torture in the prison system

April 2, 2013

The Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation (GCRT) published a short report on torture and inhuman treatment in the Georgian penitentiary system in March.

In September 2012, a massive prison scandal came to light when a video was broadcasted showing prison staff abusing, torturing and sexually molesting prisoners. In 2012, the GCRT provided assistance to 564 victims of torture and their families. The majority of patients were tortured in Georgian penitentiary facilities. Besides giving testimonies from various clients, the report also highlights the involvement of medical personnel in these abuses.

Harrowing reports

“What is particularly disturbing is the involvement of medical personel in the torture sessions, both by attending and by direct participation. Many convicts refer to physicians having either attended torture sessions, screaming at prisoners, or having inflicted torture themselves. There are especially harrowing reports, e.g. that while medical doctors were busy stitching the self-inflicted injuries of a prisoner, prison guards were beating the very same patient in front of these physicians.”

A particularly frightful story is that of a school director from a village in Imereti region:

“Later I was taken to the hospital morgue and tied to a table, lying next to a corpse. I was lying there for the entire day. At some point one man came down, took one of the instruments that is used for autopsy and started breaking my toes, one by one. I was screaming, asking for mercy. Only at night I was untied from the table in the morgue and allowed into my cell. They didn’t provide any medical assistance for my fractures. I have difficulties in walking until now. Once I was punished for watching an opposition TV channel and the doctor of the facility together with the deputee director beat me up severely.”

As the GRCT concludes, reports like these indicate gross violations of medical ethics and should be carefully investigated. The persons concerned should be held criminally responsible and stripped of their medical license.

Download the report (PDF)

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