Inmates in Georgian Prison Stage Hunger Strike

TBILISI – Several dozen inmates currently serving life sentences in a Georgian prison near the capital Tbilisi began a hunger strike late Wednesday, according to news site Vestnik Kavkaza.

The country’s Corrections Ministry said Wednesday that 42 inmates currently serving life sentences in the Gldani Prison began to protest after demanding that their prison sentences be reduced in according with Georgia’s 2012 amnesty law, which reduced prison sentences by 25 per cent.

The law, however, did not include life sentences in the amnesty clause.

Officials at the corrections ministry said the prison staff are constantly monitoring the inmates.

"Thus far the prisoners have no complaints or issues with the prison staff. They are only demanding an amendment to the amnesty law that had previously been adopted by the Parliament. They’ve only just begun their hunger strike and haven’t yet shown signs that they are suffering any physical affects. We will continue to supervise their condition," said the Corrections Ministry.

Giorgi Geladze, one of the inmates taking part in the hunger strike and who is acting as the protestors’ spokesman, disputed the ministry’s claims regarding the number involved in the demonstration.

According to Geladze, 55 inmates at the prison have refused food or water until their demands have been met.

The Georgian parliament passed the 2012 law on the reduction of sentences as part of a drive to reduce the country’s inmate population, which had spiked significantly under former President Mikheil Saakashvili.

By the end of Saakashvili’s decade in power, Georgia had one of the largest per capita prisoner populations in the world.

By Nicholas Waller

19 May 2016 12:02