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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Monday, 22 April 2013 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Turkmenistan
Represented by 10-member delegation headed by Mr. Vepa Hajiyev, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/TMSession16.aspx)

Troika *

Botswana, Ecuador, Philippines

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Turkmenistan page on the UPR Extranet)

  • Turkmenistan is a party to more than 120 international conventions and treaties many of which have been acceded to by the State within the reporting period;
  • Within the scope of implementing legal reforms, a number of legislative acts on protection of human rights have been adopted in Turkmenistan from 2008 to 2012, including amendments introduced to the Criminal-procedural Code in line with the Convention against Torture;
  • The new Criminal-executive Code was adopted on 25 March 2011 specifying legal relations in penitentiary system of Turkmenistan; between 2009 to April 2013 major reforms and modernization efforts have been carried out in 16 correctional facilities in the country;
  • Between 2011 and 2012 representatives of the ICRC visited two correctional facilities and gave a positive assessment of conditions in which prisoners were serving their terms;
  • The main objective of the National Programme on Social and Economic development (2011-2030) was the transformation of social conditions of the population of villages, settlements, regional and sub-regional centres;
  • The State has already allocated 4,8 billion ZSD for the new projects in rural areas; economic growth in Turkmenistan has led to a steady increase in the gross domestic product per capita;
  • Turkmenistan was one of the first countries in the world that promptly commenced anti-recession activity in the wake of the global economic crisis; since January 2013, the value of pensions has increased to 15% and welfare payments to 10%;
  • In terms of the rights of the child, the President of Turkmenistan adopted the decree “On approval of the General Programme of Turkmenistan on Development of Juvenile Justice” on 1 June 2012;
  • The Government initiated a joint project with the European Commission, the OHCHR and UNDP entitled “Strengthening of national capacity of Turkmenistan on implementation and protection of human rights” for the purpose of strengthening dialogues on human rights with the National Institute of Democracy and Human Rights under the President (2009-Juily 2013);
  • In response to questions posed the delegation noted that NGOs and religious organizations played an important role in the development of society in Turkmenistan; at present 128 religious organizations were registered in the country and 240 NGOs were currently operating in Turkmenistan; 
  • The delegation also indicated that there was a special programme in place to provide people with safe drinking water and the Government was building several water purification facilities;
  • As from 2010 a number of citizens arrested in connection with the assassination attempt on former President Niyazov were pardoned, however those found guilty remained in prison.

Participants

In total 78 States participated in the dialogue:  27 HRC members and 51 observers  (Statements available on Turkmenistan page on the UPR Extranet)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The engagement with the UN human rights system and addressing relevant reporting backlogs;
  • Accession to several international instruments and efforts to bring legislation in line with treaty obligations;
  • The setting up of human rights centres in five cities;
  • The enactment of the new Mass Media Act;
  • The release of certain political prisoners and ICRC access to selected prison facilities;
  • Efforts to reform the juvenile justice system and to establish criminal penalties for torture.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Steps taken to address cases of political prisoners;
  • Measures to ensure freedom of expression and of the media;
  • Efforts to address and combat acts of intimidation and restrictions against human rights defenders and the media;
  • Steps to improve access to prison and detention facilities;
  • Efforts to fully realize the rights of detainees;
  • Measures taken to cooperate with UN Special Procedures.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Turkmenistan.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To end arbitrary detention, harassment and other acts of intimidation against journalists, media workers and human rights defenders and to take steps to release all political prisoners and human rights defenders;
  • To facilitate requested visits of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention;
  • To grant independent national and international monitoring organizations full access to all detention facilities;
  • To fully implement the rights of convicts serving long-term imprisonment to communicate with their lawyers and to inform relatives and the public about the whereabouts of all persons who have been under arrest and whose fate is currently unknown;
  • To reform legislation to provide the full enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of assembly and the right to freedom of association;
  • To uphold full freedom of expression, including on the Internet and other forms of media, and ensure that the media can operate without fear of harassment;
  • Remove from the Religious Organizations Law prohibition on unregistered religious activities;
  • To facilitate the participation of by civil society groups, in particular by reforming the system of registration for NGOs working in the country;
  • To effectively address instances of violence against women and find a way to overcome the culture of silence and impunity in such cases, including domestic violence and marital rape;
  • To adopt legislative and administrative measures to guarantee the full enjoyment of the right to clean drinking water and sanitation for the entire population, with particular attention to rural areas;
  • To extend a standing invitation to Special Procedures and to continue to work on establishing a national intuition in accordance with the Paris Principles;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: Rome Statute of the ICC, OPCAT, the OP to the 3rd CRC (communications), the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, the Convention on enforced disappearances, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. 

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Turkmenistan is scheduled to take place on Friday, 26 April 2013

  • The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.   

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org

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