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Behind Khatuna’s latticed face2010-07-14 19:40
In Georgian jails, under-age girls are kept together with the grown-up offenders. In Europe, this fact would arouse a storm of emotions and a wave of dismissals, while Georgian Minister for Sentence Implementation Khatuna Kalmakhelidze just shruggs her shoulders: why should one build a separate prison for them? A beautiful woman heading an unappealing department is Mikhail Saakashvili's another PR-project, just like his other penal reforms. The number of prisoners does not reduce and prisoners of conscience go on hunger strikes until they faint. One of them, Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, is even ready to admit his guilt in order to be allowed to speak on air.
Girl-criminals in Georgia are very few: only 27 under-age ladies were convicted last year.
There is no separate prison for them, while juvenile penal colonies are meant only for male-teenagers. The girls are kept in a female prison, although they should be isolated according to law. They have got separate wards but they share meals and walks with the grown-up women who can hardly serve as an example to follow.
Such violation of law was recently stressed by attorney Gela Nikolaishvili. He says there are currently six under-age persons in Georgian prisons. One of them, Ilona Muralova, is serving a 8-year sentence for murder; another one, Gvantsa Kuparadze - a 5-year sentence for murder attempt. Another three girls, Ana Kaladieva, Ana Lupashko and Tamar Shlepchyan are convicted of theft. The case of the sixth prisoner, Tamar Margiani, is not yet completed: she is accused of drugs use, storage and sale.
In Nikoleishvili's opinion, teenagers should be awarded less tough sentences. "It is unnecessary to award imprisonment as a measure of punishment. Besides, one should build an institution that would not resemble a prison for grown-ups. It should provide softer living conditions and more freedom", - the attorney said in his interview to GeorgiaTimes.
The girls do not complaint. Still, head of Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights nongovernmental organization Nana Kakabadze says that living conditions at Matrosov Street are so horrible that, compared to them, the fact of keeping the girls together with the grown-up women does not look an offense.
Last year, a rebellion burst in another female colony in Tbilisi. The reason was the president's pardon that did not cover a single female. The prisoners refused to obey; a fire started and almost the whole prison burnt down. This spring, 25 initiators of the disorders were awarded additional sentences.