This week the United Nations Human Rights Committee convenes for its 134th session, during which it will begin examining Turkmenistan’s third periodic report about the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Ahead of this review, Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) have submitted a joint report to the Committee describing key concerns regarding Turkmenistan’s persistent failure to comply with its ICCPR obligations under the current rule of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, whose repressive legacy is expected to be passed on to his hand-picked successor (his son) following early presidential elections announced for 12 March.
The TIHR-IPHR report highlights wide-ranging restrictions on the freedom of expression seen in Turkmenistan, including state media control, internet censorship and lack of government transparency on issues of public concern such as the national Covid-19 outbreak, which the authorities have persistently denied. The report also documents the lack of space for independent human rights NGOs and opposition political parties to operate in the country, increasing persecution of civil society members both at home and abroad (including through their relatives) and suppression of rare spontaneous protests in a context of continued forcible mobilization of residents for state-organized mass events. In addition, the report draws attention to the ongoing problems of politically motivated imprisonment, torture and disappearances; the harsh prison conditions in the country; and the continued use of forced labour in the cotton harvest. The report is based on information obtained by TIHR through its monitoring of the situation in Turkmenistan with the help of an in-country network of activists, as well as information from other independent organizations, which monitor and report on developments in the country.
The Human Rights Committee is scheduled to begin its review of Turkmenistan on 24 March by adopting a list of issues to which the authorities of the country will be expected to respond before the Committee continues its review and adopts conclusions and recommendations on the situation in Turkmenistan.
The TIHR-IPHR report can be downloaded here.
The Human Rights Committee is a body made up of independent experts tasked with overseeing the implementation of the ICCPP by its State parties. All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. Turkmenistan ratified the ICCPR in 1997 but did not submit its first periodic report until over a decade later. After examining the previous state reports received, the Committee adopted highly critical conclusions on Turkmenistan in 2012 and 2017.