NGOs criticize justice minister for releasing a video recorded in prison

NGOs says that Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani should be held accountable for the release of a video recorded in prison. Photo: Justice Ministry press office., 21 Jan 2020 - 18:54, Tbilisi,Georgia

Eight NGOs, including Transparency International Georgia and International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, have criticised Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani for releasing a video earlier today which depicts the monitoring process in a prison  by an employee of the Georgian  Public Defender’s Office. 

Tsulukiani showed the video in parliament after Public Defender Nino Lomjaria presented a report regarding the situation in four Georgian prisons. 

Tsulukiani told Lomjaria that the conduct of several of her employees “is not proper” and they are also “inadequately dressed” while visiting prisons. 

Your representative drinks coffee boiled by a prisoner, smokes his cigarette, eats his chocolate and use his toilet,” Tsulukiani told Lomjaria. 

Later the Special Penitentiary Service of Georgia, which is under the Georgian Justice Ministry, released the video on its Facebook page. 

The NGOs says that though releasing the video Tsulukiani violated the law. 

The action also contradicts international obligations taken by Georgia. We believe that the minister’s political responsibility must be raised,” the NGOs say. 

 The NGOs stated that even if the meeting of the Public Defender’s Office employee with an inmate or other individuals was filmed, ‘releasing such videos is absolutely unacceptable.’ 

Lomjaria says that she saw “nothing illegal or unusual in the video, while there will be question marks raised regarding the release of the video.” 

Tsulukiani said that the video “ was recorded legally and such videos are saved according to the recommendation of public defender.”