Turkmen President Orders Amnesty For 1,000 Convicts

The president of Turkmenistan signed a decree Friday to free over 1,000 people from prisons in a move dedicated to the 22nd anniversary of his country's independence, local television reported.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered law enforcement bodies to make sure that all amnestied convicts celebrate the country's holiday on October 27-28 with their families and relatives.

There is no official data on the number of people in prisons in Turkmenistan, but Berdymukhamedov said earlier that the number "does not exceed the figure of 10,000."

Turkmenistan is one of the nine worst countries in the world on human rights issues, according to US-based rights watchdog Freedom House.

Berdymukhamedov came to power in late 2006 after the death from a sudden heart attack of his eccentric predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov.