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Home » Ashgabat responds to the UN on human rights

Ashgabat responds to the UN on human rights

by Koby John
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Internal compliance with international commitments is under observation. Corruption and personal discrimination are also targeted. The attitude of the Turkmen government is evasive. Religious groups required to register.

Turkmenistan has prepared the answers to the questions posed for the country’s third periodic report according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The responses will be presented at the 137th session of the UN Human Rights Committee on February 27, although the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has already published them on its website.

The first issue concerns the so-called implementation of international commitments within the state. The Turkmens list a series of documents, from the National Human Rights Plan of 2021-2025 to the Recommendation for collaboration with the Agency for guarantees in the public security organs, the legal system and the colleges of lawyers. Various initiatives are recalled such as the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forum of national human rights associations.

The practical achievements presented are the possibility of contacting the guarantor by telephone and the website of the Guarantor Agency, active since April 2021. The guarantor for rights is a figure that only appeared in Turkmenistan in 2017. To offer the population the elementary rights it took no less than four years. The site itself is rather crude and ungrammatical, and the “news” are broadcasts of government communications. The guarantor’s initiatives are communicated separately, and often without updates.

In 2021, the guarantor received 355 appeals, 244 written and 111 oral; the Agency took charge of only 79 of them, while for 85 it was limited to the consultation opinion. In comparison, Kyrgyzstan, a similar country in terms of region and number of inhabitants, evaluated 13,048 appeals in the same year.

The second question concerns the fight against corruption, to which Turkmens respond by quoting state laws, without giving any statistics on the application of the rules themselves. Then the policy towards Covid-19 is investigated, to which the answers are relegated to a list of “states of emergency” without any details. Turkmenistan was perhaps the most denial state in this regard, excluding any spread of the pandemic and classifying any respiratory disease under other denominations, except for applying draconian measures to isolate the population on several occasions.

The fourth question concerns the fight against discrimination: it is settled with a couple of paragraphs, which recall how the equality of Turkmen citizens is guaranteed by law, and informs us that “Turkmenistan does not have any information on the citizen Kasymberd Garaev”, a young cardiologist who in 2019 revealed that he was homosexual; the police arrested him for having attempted approaches via the internet, only to then be sent to “special treatment” under the supervision of a local mullah. He has since disappeared, having returned to his family without permission to have contact with the outside world.

Ashgabat’s answers to other questions are also rather evasive, such as that on gender equality, for which the active presence of women in political life and in business is claimed, or that on the fight against terrorism and the right to life. On the condition of the detainees we recall the various waves of presidential pardons, which freed many people accused of violating the rules on expatriation and bureaucratic fraud. We inform you that torture practices against those arrested are totally excluded in the country, bringing the provisions of the penal code in this regard into line with international standards and citing many cases of detainees that have appeared in the press, denying that violent practices have been used against them .

Persons deprived of their liberty are “continuously controlled by observation commissions, to avoid any damage to their living conditions from any point of view”, even reporting the menus regularly offered to prisoners, for whom the place of residence is “regularly fumigated with the aromas of garmala”, a herb with great ability to act against microbes.

On religious freedom, Turkmenistan admits that it does not give space to unregistered religious associations, but specifies that “it is not that difficult to obtain registration”. In 2021, only one organization was requested to register, called the “True Way” (Dogry ýol), which was quietly accepted, while in 2022, none was submitted.

Source : Asia News

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