26 September 2012, 16:46
Georgian Patriarch urges release of anti-torture protesters
Tbilisi, September 26, Interfax - The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, has urged Georgia's government to release demonstrators who have been jailed for protests against torture in the country's prisons.
"I repeatedly warned Ms. [Khatuna] Kalmakhelidze [former minister of corrections and legal assistance who resigned last week in a scandal over torture and rape in one of the prisons in the capital Tbilisi] that she should be like a mother to prison inmates, and that they should not be tortured no matter how guilty they were. I also warned her colleagues, but, apparently, this has not been enough, and they have gone on, and are going on, with those horrors," Patriarch Ilia said in a statement released on Wednesday.
"Now other people have been jailed, those who are actively speaking about this are being arrested, and I want to ask our government to release those people, the new detainees. Because this will give rise to a new wave of confrontation, to hostility."
The Patriarch said the Georgian Church had been proposing for a long time that chaplains be appointed for prisons, but that the initiative had still not materialized.
"Of course, clerics do pay frequent visits to correctional institutions, but it is a completely different matter when a spiritual father who is vested with larger social responsibilities has the right of supervision," he said.
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