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Review of Turkmenistan under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) welcome the opportunity to provide information to the Human Rights Committee in advance of its initial review of Turkmenistan under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The review of Turkmenistan will take place at the 104th session of the Committee on 12-30 March 2012. The current document, which is primarily based on information obtained through monitoring undertaken by TIHR, highlights major concerns in key areas of the Covenant. It updates and complements an earlier TIHR contribution to the Committee, which was submitted prior to the adoption of the list of issues for the review of Turkmenistan.

Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) welcome the opportunity to provide information to the Human Rights Committee in advance of its initial review of Turkmenistan under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The review of Turkmenistan will take place at the 104th session of the Committee on 12-30 March 2012. The current document, which is primarily based on information obtained through monitoring undertaken by TIHR, highlights major concerns in key areas of the Covenant. It updates and complements an earlier TIHR contribution to the Committee, which was submitted prior to the adoption of the list of issues for the review of Turkmenistan.

Introduction

Following the death of long-term President Saparmurat Niyazov, alias Turkmenbashi, in 2006, hope rose that the human rights situation in Turkmenistan would significantly improve. Under Niyazov’s successor Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, the Turkmen authorities have made some small-scale progress. Among others, they have adopted new legislation for the stated purpose of ensuring better compliance with international standards and showed some readiness to cooperate with international human rights bodies (by allowing the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion to visit Turkmenistan and by submitting long overdue reports to UN treaty bodies). However, in spite of this, the situation has remained essentially unchanged in practice.

Most of the characteristics of the repressive Niyazov regime have remained in place and President Berdymukhammedov continues to enjoy virtually unlimited powers. The government continues to dominate all branches of power, there is no openly functioning political opposition, media is tightly controlled by the state, and the environment for civil society is extremely repressive. Fundamental rights and freedoms continue to be restricted in all walks of life and no effective measures have been taken to address major concerns raised by international human rights review bodies, despite pledges made by the Turkmen authorities. While the most extreme features of the Turkmenbashi-cult have been done away with, the current president has promoted a personality cult of his own and his portrait can be found on streets and buildings all over the country. The presidential elections scheduled for February 2012 are set to be another regime-orchestrated event without any meaningful competition.

The review Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee Jan 2012

Source: TIHR