The UN Committee against Torture found torture to be “widespread” in Turkmenistan. The government continued to clamp down on journalists and human rights defenders.
There were continued reports of torture or other ill-treatment of human rights defenders, journalists, and certain religious minorities by police, officers of the Ministry of National Security and prison personnel. The authorities failed to carry out effective investigations into such allegations.
In June the Committee against Torture published its Concluding Observations on Turkmenistan. The Committee expressed concern at the “numerous and consistent allegations about the widespread practice of torture and ill-treatment of detainees”.Top of page
The authorities continued to suppress dissent. Journalists working with foreign media outlets known to publish criticism of the authorities faced harassment and intimidation. Independent civil society activists were unable to operate openly. The Committee against Torture urged the government to “ensure that human rights defenders and journalists, in Turkmenistan and abroad, are protected from intimidation or violence as a result of their activities”. The authorities continued to use confinement in psychiatric hospitals to silence dissent.
Religious activity in Turkmenistan remained strictly controlled. Many minority religious groups continued to face obstruction in registering, leaving them more susceptible to harassment by the authorities.
Refusal to serve in the army remained a criminal offence and there was no alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors. Eight Jehovah’s Witnesses were serving prison terms for conscientious objection, and one was serving a suspended sentence.
The Protestant Pastor, Ilmurad Nurliev, remained in prison.Top of page
The authorities continued to withhold information about the whereabouts of dozens of people arrested and convicted in connection with the alleged 2002 assassination attempt on former President Saparmurad Niyazov. The Committee against Torture urged the government to ensure prompt, impartial and thorough investigations into all outstanding cases of alleged disappearance, and to notify the victims’ relatives of the outcomes.Top of page
On 1 August, Turkmenistani students studying in Tajikistan who had come home for the holidays were banned from returning to resume their studies. In October, the ban was lifted, but some students were still prevented from returning to their universities. The Turkmenistani authorities did not explain the reason for this.
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