Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Turkmenistan 1st Time Review By UN Committee Against Torture

Posted by Info on 14/04/2011

Turkmenistan is scheduled to make its first-ever presentation to the CAT in Geneva in mid-May. An initial report submitted by the Turkmen government last year glossed over its questionable record and instead emphasized rights provisions in the country’s constitution.
Human Rights activists forwarded a reportto the CAT in March by Civicus, an umbrella organization representing civil society groups, in conjunction with human rights activists from Turkmenistan, described conditions in Turkmen jails as “dire.” Overcrowding, corruption, rape, poor nutrition, beatings and other forms of torture are commonplace.

Even if the CAT review process confirms the existence of a serious problem in Turkmenistan, some activists say the United States and European Union are unlikely to alter their current diplomatic stances toward Ashgabat. Two powerful factors – Turkmenistan’s abundance of energy, and its strategic position as one of Afghanistan’s neighbors – are pushing Washington and Brussels to expand engagement with Ashgabat. What is perceived as strategic necessity is likely to keep on trumping rights concerns.

Specifically, observers believe CAT’s review will have little bearing on whether the EU finally ratifies its Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Turkmenistan. The EU-Turkmen PCA was signed way back in 1998, but ratification has been held up in large part by lingering concerns about Ashgabat’s rights record. The PCA would provide a framework for expanded EU-Turkmen economic cooperation, especially in the energy sphere. The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee approved the PCA in January, setting the stage for ratification later this year.

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