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Georgia/South Ossetia: ICRC organizes family visits to detainees of Georgian and South Ossetian origin

11-06-2010 News Release 10/104

Geneva (ICRC) – On 10 and 11 June, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) organized a second round of family visits to detainees of Georgian and South Ossetian origin on both sides of the administrative boundary line. The visits took place as part of a programme launched on 30 April when three prisoners of South Ossetian origin held in Tbilisi prisons were allowed to receive their relatives.

Yesterday, the wife and son of a Georgian prisoner visited him in Tskhinvali/Tskhinval prison, while a South Ossetian woman visited her husband at Tbilisi prison. Today, four detainees of South Ossetian origin held at Tbilisi prison were visited by their loved ones. The visits passed off smoothly thanks to full cooperation from both sides.

" These visits are extremely important, " said Candice Salkaln, an ICRC delegate. " Watching the Georgian woman in her early thirties and her 16-year old son on their way to visit the boy's father, I could see just how much this meant to them. It was the first time they had seen him since he was arrested in February 2009. On the way back the woman told me that she had jumped at the chance when she heard the ICRC could help her visit her husband. "

According to internationally recognized humanitarian principles, detainees have the right to be visited by their families, which is why the ICRC – on the basis of its humanitarian mandate and worldwide experience working in prisons – took the steps needed to facilitate these events. The organization's detention-visit programme was worked out in agreement with all sides.

The ICRC hopes that this programme will make further visits possible so that families of detainees on both sides can maintain contact with their detained relatives.

  For further information, please contact:
  Maia Kardava, ICRC Tbilisi, tel. +995 91 600 685
  Marina Tedeti, ICRC Tskhinvali/Tskhinval, tel. +7 928 230 0583
  Yuriy Shafarenko, ICRC Moscow, tel. +7 495 626 5426