09TBILISI453, GEORGIA: NEW CORRECTIONS MINISTER FACES MANY

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09TBILISI453.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI453 2009-03-06 14:53 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3584
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0453/01 0651453
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061453Z MAR 09           ZDK ZDK DUE TO MANY SVC'S
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1128
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000453 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC AND INL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: NEW CORRECTIONS MINISTER FACES MANY 
CHALLENGES 
 
REF: TBILISI 255 
 
TBILISI 00000453  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
 1. (C)  Summary:  New Minister of Corrections and Legal 
Assistance, Dimitri Shashkin told the Ambassador that he 
faces significant challenges regarding Georgia's current 
penal system.  He said he will focus first on creating a 
probationary system for the country, noting that the current 
system is completely broken.  He will look for western 
assistance in this area and believes he can quickly deliver 
measurable progress.  Shashkin said inadequate facilities and 
prison health care will take longer to fix.  The minister 
said he would have his first-year work plan ready by 
mid-March.  Shashkin appealed to the USG for assistance on 
probation reforms, and in sharing Georgia's success on 
provision of legal aid to charged persons.  As Minister, 
Shashkin will oversee Georgia's penitentiary, probation, and 
legal aid programs.  He will also coordinate the GOG's 
democratic reforms (septel).  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) Comment: As the new head of a newly-created ministry 
(previously prison-related issues were covered by the 
Ministry of Justice), Shashkin has promptly set about 
addressing the significant tasks before him with 
determination and enthusiasm.  Shashkin clearly sees himself 
as a communicator and reformer, with a primary role of 
sharing Georgia's progress with the West.  Shashkin claimed 
President Saakashvili had given him a budget and free hand to 
run his ministry, saying "here is a ball and a field; how you 
play it is up to you."  Given the serious problems in 
corrections, and as a GOG outsider, Shashkin will need time 
and authority to really implement reforms.  End comment. 
 
AMBASSADOR CALLS 
 
3. (C) On March 5, the Ambassador paid a courtesy call on 
Shashkin, the new Minister of the recently renamed Ministry 
of Corrections and Legal Assistance (MCLA).  Shashkin, who 
oversees Georgia's penitentiary, probation, and legal aid 
systems, joked that Minister of Internal Affairs Merabishvili 
was happy with the new minisry, because "he has given all 
the problems to me."  The new minister appeared energetic, 
but realistic, in his empty new office, smelling of fresh 
paint.  The Ambassador noted that many in Washington are 
carefully watching Georgia's new cabinet and democratic 
reforms in order to see if his appointment would result in 
real change, or is just "window dressing" to assuage 
Georgia's international friends.  The Ambassador noted that 
he had shared this concern with others in the GOG.  Shashkin 
replied that he believes the GOG must deliver the "real 
product" of democratic reforms and rule of law. 
 
MINISTRY STRUCTURE 
 
4. (C) Shashkin said his first-year work plan would be ready 
by mid-March.  His ministry contains three departments, 
including penitentiary and probation, a training center, and 
legal aid.  The MCLA is slated to have 100 staff members, but 
Shashkin believes he can run it effectively with 75.  He is 
currently trying to hire qualified people, and is 
communicating with NGOs as well.  He hopes to pick up some of 
the OSCE mission's staff when it closes.  Shashkin wants to 
bring in as many "new, clean people" as possible.  Shashkin 
said the ministry has its own general inspection and 
investigative units.  Of four deputy minister positions, 
Shashkin was asked to keep only one specific person, David 
Jagua, a confidante of former prisons chief Bacho Akhalaia. 
Shashkin said this would not prevent him from running the 
ministry and implementing reforms his way, and he will 
Qministry and implementing reforms his way, and he will 
appoint others to the remaining deputy minister slots. 
Shashkin told the Ambassador that he does not believe 
Akhalaia's notorious legacy will haunt the ministry. 
 
FIRST THINGS FIRST 
 
5. (C) Shashkin acknowledged that much international 
criticism exists regarding Georgia's current penal system. 
He said he will focus first on creating a probationary system 
for the country, because the current system is completely 
broken.  He said there are 19,000 prisoners and 23,000 
parolees in the country.  Consequently, probation officers 
have over 700 cases at a time, and Shashkin said 
corruption/bribery in the monitoring system is rampant. 
Although he is moving money from his budget to address the 
probation issue, he will also look for western assistance in 
this area.  Shashkin believes he can quickly deliver 
measurable progress.  He hopes to use electronic monitoring 
bracelets, fingerprint signatures, and other technology to 
improve Georgia's capacity to track convicts released on 
 
TBILISI 00000453  002 OF 002 
 
 
probation.  He wants to improve the ministry's country-wide 
communication and IT systems to full integration, modeled 
after the successful, USAID-sponsored Civil Registry Agency 
reform program. 
 
OTHER PROBLEMS, NOT SO FAST 

 
6. (C) Other problems will take much longer to solve, said 
Shashkin.  Foremost among these is bad prison conditions. 
Given budget constraints, Shashkin said this will take years 
to fully correct.  Shashkin said that the GOG is in the 
process of destroying several prisons, and he will open two 
new ones this year, markedly improving the situation.  Prison 
healthcare is a more troubling problem, since the Aldagi 
Insurance Co. no longer sponsors treatment for prisoners and 
the Ministry of Health has refused to take responsibility for 
prisons.  Shashkin said that he does not lack doctors or 
nurses, but rather equipment, psychologists, and 
rehabilitation specialists.  He requested USG and 
international assistance in this area as well.  Shashkin said 
that he plans to take responsibility for healthcare in-house 
for several years, until they can normalize a system that can 
be turned over to the Ministry of Health. 
 
OTHER ISSUES; USG INVOLVEMENT 
 
7. (C) The Ambassador asked Shashkin how his plans would 
affect the high percentage of people who are arrested and 
kept in pre-trial detention.  Shashkin said those persons 
awaiting charges do not fall under his ministry, but rather 
the Ministry of Justice.  He said "all" of the so-called 
thieves-in-law are held in prison, with Krik being the 
country's highest-security prison.  The minister said he is 
also working with NGOs to determine appropriate visiting 
hours and regulations for prisoners.  He said communication 
with NGOs are a priority for his ministry. 
 
8. (C) The Ambassador said that the USG does not generally 
provide direct aid for prisons, but that some of the 
probation ideas were worth consideration.  Shashkin agreed 
that he needed assistance for probation, and not for prisons. 
 The minister also asked again for USG help in conveying 
Georgia's successes publicly to the broader western public. 
As an example, Shashkin noted that his legal aid department 
(formerly under the MOJ) had provided assistance in many 
cases where people were charged.  Finally, he told the 
Ambassador he is tracking down where significant EU 
contributions -- dedicated to prison facility upgrades -- had 
gone since many prisons remained in bad shape. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: