Statement by the Freedom Files Analytical Centre for the pre-sessional meeting in advance of the 3d cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Turkmenistan

TURKMENISTAN: SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS IN FREEDOMS OF MOVEMENT, EXPRESSION AND ASSOCIATION

Statement by the Freedom Files Analytical Centre for the pre-sessional meeting in advance of the 3d cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Turkmenistan

 

 This statement[1] has been prepared in advance of the 3d cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Turkmenistan by the Freedom Files Analytical Centre with support of other members of the Prove They Are Alive! campaign, including the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Crude Accountability, “Memorial” Human Rights Centre, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Human Rights Watch, and civic activists inside Turkmenistan working discreetly and at a high risk. The Prove They Are Alive! campaign was established in 2013 by the Turkmen Civic Solidarity Group and has been working since then to protect the rights of detainees serving long-term sentences in Turkmen prisons who, since their sentences have been held incommunicado, and to halt the practice of enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan´s prisons.[2]

The report is based on the submission by the Prove They Are Alive! campaign for the UPR process in October last year, updated in March 2018. It focuses on implementation of recommendations accepted by the government of Turkmenistan at the 2d cycle of the UPR in 2013, suggests new recommendations, and covers three areas of concern:

  • freedom of movement;
  • freedom of expression and access to information;
  • freedom of association and persecution of civic activists.

 

FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT: ARBITRARY AND POLITICALLY MOTIVATED TRAVEL BANS

Turkmenistan accepted the recommendation 113.21 in the 2d cycle of the UPR to amend its Law on Migration to comply with ICCPR obligations.[3]

International norms on freedom of movement, including in the ICCPR, guarantee freedom to leave one’s country and return to it. However, relevant recommendation from 2013 to bring Turkmenistan’s legislation in line with this norm has not been implemented, and in practice, this right is heavily violated. Arbitrary and politically motivated restrictions on freedom of movement, particularly on travel abroad, are practiced widely in Turkmenistan, affecting an estimated 20,000 people, many of whom have received lifelong travel bans.

No version of the Constitution of Turkmenistan since 1992 to the present, including the current Constitution adopted in September 2016, has included provisions to guarantee the right to leave the country and return. The official concept of freedom of movement is understood only to include travel within the country:  “Everyone has the right to move freely and choose their residence within the borders of Turkmenistan. Restrictions on entry in certain areas and movement in these certain areas may only be established by law.”[4]

The Law on Migration, adopted in 2008 and amended in 2012, is the main legal act governing the right to travel outside of Turkmenistan. Despite references to the right to freedom of movement and declared guarantees of this right in the Law on Migration, the key provision leading to massive violations of this right is contained in Article 30, part 1, paragraph 10:

 

  1. Turkmen citizens can be subjected to temporary restrictions on exit from Turkmenistan:

<…> 10) if their exit contravenes the interests of national security of Turkmenistan.

In addition to the absence of a constitutional guarantee of the right to leave the country and return, the vagueness of this provision in the Law on Migration and the possibility of its selective application, the lack of criteria or definitions of national security in the law, the lack of clear indications as to who defines “national security interests” have created the grounds for arbitrary and often politically motivated bans on leaving the country and provides the authorities with an instrument of repression. Turkmen government has established large blacklists of persons arbitrarily denied the right to leave the country.

Virtually any security agency in Turkmenistan can impose a travel ban, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Committee of National Security, Prosecutor General’s Office, and the State Committee for Protection of State Secrets. The procedure is extrajudicial, i.e. no court order is required. A ban can be imposed for a specific period or indefinitely. No one notifies the individuals that they have been banned: affected people learn about it at the border crossing. In theory, since 2013 relevant information can be obtained from the State Migration Service. However, it refuses to provide written documents or motives for travel restrictions. Experience reveals that domestic mechanisms such as the National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Presidential Commission for Public Complaints against Law Enforcement and Security Service Misconduct, and the recently established institute of the Ombudsman are ineffective and refer all complaints to the State Migration Service. Replies by the Migration Service to the complaints and inquiries do not give information about which body imposed the ban (it usually says “a competent body”), on what grounds, and for how long. Although no statistics of such appeals are publicly available, their ineffectiveness is confirmed by victims.

There is no independent judiciary in the country. Knowing that they cannot obtain justice in courts, people do not bring their grievances on travel bans to the judicial system. Most people are too terrified to challenge the state in court. In a single case known to us, a family of an elderly married couple and their adult son who have been banned from travel since 2002, had courage to dare to apply to the court. They went all the way to the Supreme Court and lost their case: their ban was upheld without explanation of the grounds and which agency took the decision.

No official data are available on the number of people banned from travelling abroad. Estimated 60 thousand individuals are legally restricted for travel every year, including holders of the state, military and other secrets, young conscripts serving their military duty, and those who are banned for travel due to restrictions imposed on them with respect to their status in criminal or administrative proceedings. However, our analysis[5] shows that in addition to them, up to 20 thousand people are banned from foreign travel on political grounds, totally arbitrarily and in contradiction to international norms and domestic laws. They are not suspects, accused or witnesses in any proceedings, do not have access to any state secrets, are not subject to compulsory military draft, etc., and thereby are not subject to restrictions for exiting the country established by the Law on Migration.

Most victims of arbitrary travel bans are relatives or acquaintances of individuals convicted for long prison terms on charges of involvement in the alleged coup attempt in November 2002 or other high-profile cases. Most of the convicted in these cases have disappeared in Turkmen prisons. Such travel bans on their relatives are often accompanied by restrictions on employment and studies, eviction, and internal exile.

This type of repression serves several purposes: first, it is a form of collective punishment; second, the government seeks to avoid international publicity and measures under international human rights instruments which may be triggered by relatives’ testimony. According to our account, some 7,000 to 10,000 family members and close friends of people sentenced to long prison terms are currently banned from travelling abroad.

Another category includes dissenters and other people perceived as “disloyal,” such as current and former journalists and bloggers, individuals having access to foreign diplomats or independent means of communication (e.g. unrestricted web access at foreign embassies). This category also includes former employees of foreign organizations or local experts knowledgeable of the real situation with healthcare, epidemiology, disease in prisons and the army. The total number in this group is estimated at 1,000. In most cases, their relatives are also banned from exiting the country.

Family members of journalists, civic activists and regime opponents who have managed to flee the country and live in exile abroad are often banned from leaving the country. Such restrictions amount to hostage-taking, since those who live in exile are forced to practice self-censorship to avoid harming their relatives.

Students attending western universities who return home for vacations or extending their passports, have also been blacklisted, implying that western pro-democratic ideas are a security threat to the establishment.

Concerns over the rise of extremism have also been used as a reason to blacklist many individuals and their relatives, as well as students who studied in universities in Egypt, Turkey, Gulf countries, etc.

The categories of those blacklisted for political reasons are continually changing and expanding. These restrictions are widespread, systematic, as well as extra-judiciary, arbitrary, selective and politically motivated; and have been ongoing for many years. They are not based on the rule of law and run counter to the key principles of proportionality and necessity. Travel bans effectively serve as a tool of political repression, control and intimidation, and in some cases amount to hostage-taking. In addition, along with media censorship and restrictions on access to information, they further support the government’s policy of isolating Turkmen society from the outer world.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Amend the legislation, including the Constitution and the Law on Migration, by including explicit legal guarantees of the right to free exit from, and return to Turkmenistan.
  2. Amend the Law on Migration, which allows selective and arbitrary application of exit bans, by:
  • removing article 30, part 1, paragraph 10;
  • providing an exhaustive and detailed list of possible grounds for travel restrictions and ensuring that any such restrictions comply with the principles of proportionality and necessity;
  • providing an exhaustive list of government bodies authorized to propose such decisions;
  • introducing a provision stating that only a competent court may impose a temporary restriction on exiting the country;
  • including a provision for immediate notification of individuals subject to travel restrictions;
  • including a provision securing an unconditional right to appeal any exit ban in domestic courts and to international bodies.

.

  1. Lift existing travel bans and cease the practice of compiling “black lists” for people such as relatives of persons serving long-term sentences, former prisoners, civic activists, journalists and bloggers, relatives of exiled activists and journalists, students studying abroad, etc.
  2. In the interim, provide to those banned from foreign travel an official written explanation for the ban including information about appeal procedures.

 

QUESTIONS

  1. Please explain on what legal grounds several thousand people who are not a not subject to restrictions for exiting the country established by the Law on Migration, are banned from exiting the country. What particular body is the “competent body” imposing exit bans? Why these people are not informed about the reasons and the duration of the ban?
  2. Please indicate the legal act and particular decision under which the relatives of Konstantin Shikhmuradov have been banned from exiting the country.
  3. Please indicate the legal act and particular decision under which Rashid Ruzimatov, his wife Irina Kakabaeva and their son Rakhim Ruzimatov have been banned from exiting the country for 16 years.

 

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND INFORMATION BLOCKADE

 Turkmenistan accepted all 17 UPR recommendations in 2013 concerning freedom of expression, including in the internet, stressing in its replies how these freedoms are guaranteed in law and practice (see Annex).[6] However, these recommendations have not been implemented, and the situation in these five years has deteriorated further. The media and access to information are under total and pervasive government control. Old problems persist and new problems have emerged.

Neither previous Constitutions, nor the current Constitution of 2016 include explicit prohibition of censorship. Instead, Article 15 of the new Constitution includes the following provision: “The State shall encourage scientific and artistic activity and dissemination of its positive results.” In absence of explicit prohibition of censorship in the Constitution, this emphasis on “dissemination of positive results” effectively legitimize censorship in these areas. Practice confirms this assumption: in 2008, a State Commission was set up at the Cabinet of Ministers, with a mandate to assess the artistic level of literary work, theatrical plays and film scripts and give permission for their publication or production. This commission serves as the government censor of literature, theatre and cinema.[7]

Article 30 quotes vague notion of “norms of morale” as a possible limitation of freedom of expression, along with “public order”.

The Law on the Mass Media, adopted in 2013, includes an explicit prohibition of censorship. However, it specifically refers to the mass media and journalists and does not cover civic journalists, bloggers, freelancers, i.e. anyone not officially recognized as a journalist and media. It has also vague references to “other legislation” that may lead to restrictions on journalists’ and media work.

The government systematically seeks to isolate the Turkmen public from information and communications that are perceived as sensitive. Privately owned TV satellite dishes installed on apartment buildings roofs or balconies have been widely used throughout the country by hundreds of thousands of households for the last 25 years, providing the public with independent access to foreign TV broadcasting, including news and educational programmes. Satellite radio allowed Turkmen citizens to listen to Radio Azatlyk, the RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service and the only Turkmen-language broadcaster independent from the authorities. For the past several years, the authorities have been taking active steps to impose a full information blockade on the society by organizing several campaigns to dismantle all private satellite dishes under the guise of urban beautification.[8] These campaigns are not based on law; satellite dishes are not legally prohibited. When residents do not comply, groups of thugs organized by local authorities and sometimes accompanied by the police come to smash satellite dishes, providing no official papers and saying that these were orders of the President. No compensation for the lost equipment is provided. Dismantling never stops and intensifies on the eve of major international or political events.[9] Citizens trying to resist face pressure and threats. Systematic dismantling campaigns have led to the elimination of up to 90-95 per cent of the once existing thousands of dishes. As an alternative, the authorities are imposing strictly censored “cable TV” which airs pre-recorded foreign entertainment programs and does not include any radio broadcasting.

The first legal regulation of the use of satellite antennas was introduced a few months ago by the Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting, adopted on 13 January 2018.[10] Article 26 of the law limits the use of antennas to government-certified devices. In addition, local authorities should introduce specific requirements for the placement of antennas on the buildings on their territory in accordance with technical regulations on safety of buildings and territories, “with the purpose of protecting the state and public interests in the improvement of territories”.

In combination with the prohibition of circulation of foreign media and strict internet censorship, the destruction of satellite dishes effectively cuts off the Turkmen people from independent sources of information and news from the outside world.

Turkmen legislation does not regulate surveillance by the state security services, and the government closely monitors electronic and telephone communications.

Internet access is severely restricted, prohibitively expensive, its speed is deliberately slow, and it is subject to total censorship. All internet access is channelled through a government-controlled monopolist provider, allowing the authorities to access and read all user correspondence. Access is blocked to all websites that have ever posted critical information about Turkmenistan, including the websites of foreign NGOs and Turkmen human rights groups in exile. Virtually all known social media, messengers, and video hosting platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Skype, and the like, as well as virtual private networks providers are outlawed and blocked. Attempts to use proxy servers and VPN are detected and blocked; their users are subjected to administrative penalties and summoned for “preventive conversations” to the Ministry of National Security, where they face intimidation.

Government control over the internet has further increased with the adoption of the Law on Internet in 2014 (amended in November 2017). The law introduced thorough government controls of the internet, such as by banning the transmission of data that does not go through the official provider. Article 30 allows for arbitrary actions by introducing responsibility for distribution of information that contains libel and defamation of the President of Turkmenistan (in practice, any criticism of the President is defined as libel and defamation), libel and defamation as such, “harming the state”, and for the “accuracy of the information” and “lawfulness” of its dissemination. Importantly, the law bans the use of uncertified encryption services. In practice, it means that the use of all messengers, VPN anonymizers, and all sites that use https extension is legally prohibited. Essentially, the Turkmen public has been cut off from the world internet because most services use https these days to protect users from unauthorized intrusion.

In several well-documented cases, authorities have arrested activists very soon after they made critical posts under nicknames. Since these activists used a regular internet access without VPN or encryption, it demonstrates that the authorities easily tracked them and their IPs down. In other cases, authorities have periodically cut access to internet and phone lines of activists who were critical of the government. The websites of exiled human rights groups and political opposition groups have been subjected to repeated DDOS attacks, most recently in March 2018.

Thus, the internet, as well as television, radio and print media, can no longer serve as a channel for receiving and transmitting independent public interest information in Turkmenistan.

The authorities do all they can to stop critical reporting of the situation in Turkmenistan from getting out.
The Freedom House index on media freedom places Turkmenistan on third bottom, barely above North Korea and Eritrea. The ranking of Turkmenistan is slightly higher due to the existence of a small group of “civic journalists” not present in the other bottom countries. Civic journalists, who provide information to news outlets such as RFE/RL, Chronicles of Turkmenistan, Alternative Turkmenistan News and other outlets based abroad, cannot work openly and often write under pseudonyms. Authorities systematically harass this small group. In 2015, government pressure forced four correspondents to cease working for Radio Azatlyk. One of them, Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, was convicted on fabricated drug charges and is now serving a three-year prison term.[11] In December 2015, he was recognized by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions as a victim of arbitrary detention,[12] punished for having peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression. In 2017, due to his continued incommunicado detention, he was included by the Prove They Are Alive! campaign in the list of the disappeared in Turkmen prisons.[13] In 2016-2017, two new arrests of activists documenting human rights violations in cotton production happened, as well as violent physical assaults and death threats against Azatlyk reporter Soltan Achilova.[14] [15] [16]

In December 2016, RFE/RL correspondent Khudayberdy Allashov and his mother were detained on bogus charges of possessing chewing tobacco, found by armed police in their home. According to witnesses, Allashov was severely beaten at the police station and was unable to hold his head up or speak while in detention. A month later, Allashov and his mother were given a suspended 3-year sentence and released.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Amend the legislation to bring it in compliance with international norms by including an explicit ban on censorship in the Constitution and expanding the definition of the ban on censorship in the Law on Mass Media to include every person who makes public communications such as bloggers and civic journalists, rather than only professional journalists and registered mass media.
  2. Amend the law on the internet by eliminating provisions banning the use of uncertified encryption services and narrowing down the overly broad definition of information prohibited for distribution.
  3. Cease blocking access to internet sites and social networks.
  4. End the campaign to dismantle privately owned satellite dishes and guarantee unimpeded use of satellite dishes and independent and uncensored access to foreign TV and radio broadcasts.
  5. Stop threats against, physical attacks on, arbitrary detention and politically motivated conviction of individuals for their exercise of freedom of expressions, including collection and dissemination of information and cooperation with international media and NGOs.
  6. Release immediately and unconditionally all persons imprisoned as a result of their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, collection and distribution of information, and civic journalistic activity, in particular, Saparmamed Nepeskuliev.

 

FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION. PERSECUTION OF CIVIC ACTIVISTS

The Turkmen government has accepted all recommendations regarding freedom of association and security of human rights defenders from the 2013 UPR (see Annex)[17]. None of them have been implemented in law and practice, and the situation has deteriorated further.

Article 44 of the Constitution of 2016 does not guarantee independence of public associations and the state’s non-interference in their activities, nor does it mention that public associations can operate without getting incorporated as a legal entity.

The government adopted a law on NGOs in 2013. While it declares adherence to international norms, its provisions are very vague and allow for arbitrary and selective application. In practice, not a single independent domestic NGO has been able to register and operate openly in the country after they were all shut down in 2004. Several dozen Soviet-style GONGOs are the only existing registered NGOs in the country, meaning that they were established with government support, are fully controlled by the government, and serve government purposes. Often, they are headed by children of the ruling elite. Foreign funding is heavily restricted and taxed, and in practice is allowed only to government-controlled GONGOs.

Local activists who work discreetly and at high risk, report the fiercest government pressure against them in recent years, including slander campaigns in the media, house arrests during visits of foreign delegations, constant surveillance, and intimidation by security services.

The measures aimed at extra-judicial isolation of critics of the regime have been lately developed and tested in Turkmenistan. In the end of March 2016, a national counter-terrorism exercise took place, involving all law enforcement and security agencies. In the course of this exercise, measures were elaborated for isolation, in the case of an emergency situation or anti-terrorist operation, of all activists who have contacts with foreign journalists, diplomats, and international organisations. The goal of such complete isolation is to prevent spreading of any information beyond borders of the country during emergencies and important events, including presidential elections. A database was produced with names of all critics of the regime who are supposed to be isolated in such circumstances, with their addresses, telephone numbers, photographs, and other biographical data. After that, a training in a conduct of such an isolation operation was held, imitating full isolation of three different types, including house arrest, detention for several days, or arrest with full isolation for indefinite time. These measures would be taken without a court decision, justified by an emergency situation. Thereafter, these measures were applied ahead of presidential elections in February 2017. A similar set of measures, including restrictions on travel and intimidation, was applied during the Indoor Asian Games in September 2017.

Authorities regularly intimidate activists one the eve of major public events and visits by foreign officials by calling them, commanding to stay at home, demanding them to refrain from any contacts under a threat of detention, and cutting them off telephone and internet connection. Such campaigns happened on the eve of the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s to Ashgabat in November 2015 and on the eve of presidential elections in February 2017.

The authorities extensively use psychological pressure and slander against civic activists and journalists in Turkmenistan and in exile. In particular, since 2015, two anonymous websites[18] of unclear origin, whose content makes it clear that their owners are acting in the interests and on behalf of the Turkmen authorities, have been publishing threats and offensive materials discrediting civic activists and their relatives in Turkmenistan, often bordering on the obscene language or crossing that border and calling for reprisals against them. In Turkmenistan, this type of websites can only exist with the authorities’ permission and encouragement and should thus be recognized as instruments of psychological intimidation and a real threat to their targets’ lives and well-being. These publications have also engaged in explicit anti-Semitism.

In 2015-2016, against a backdrop of growing international criticism of the human rights situation in Turkmenistan, the country’s security services have stepped up operations aimed at suppressing the voices of exiled dissidents. At least two Turkmen dissident families in Moscow and their relatives in Turkmenistan were subjected to threats, physical assaults, and attempts of abduction.[19]

In a more tragic development, a suspicious death on September 4, 2016 of Altymurad Annamuradov, brother of an exiled dissident journalist Chary Annamuradov, happened just four days after Altymurad was kidnapped from his home in Turkmenistan and beaten by unknown men. Three of Chary Annamuradov’s brothers died under very suspicious circumstances within a year after he left the country in 1999. Altymurad, a father-of-five, was his last living brother.

On the night of 28 to 29 October 2017, the home of 76-year-old Khalida Izbastinova, mother of Farid Tukhbatullin, prominent Turkmen human rights defender, chair of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and editor of the Chronicles of Turkmenistan website, who lives in exile, was attacked in Dashoguz in northern Turkmenistan. The windows of her apartment were broken; fortunately, she was not harmed.[20] On the eve of the incident her telephone was disconnected.

Recommendations

  1. Amend the legislation on NGOs to comply with international human rights obligations.
  2. Remove restrictions on independent human rights monitoring by NGOs, allow independent NGOs to register and work without fear of retribution.
  3. Allow international NGOs to access and work in the country.
  4. Abandon the practice of persecuting and harassing civic activists by slander campaigns, intimidation, and arbitrary detention, and effectively investigate attacks on activists and their relatives.

Annex: Recommendations accepted by Turkmenistan at the 2nd cycle of the UPR in 2013, relevant to the issues covered by the statement

113.21. Call for and support amending the Law on Migration to comply with ICCPR obligations (United States of America).

***

112.59. Take effective measures to ensure the full realization of the rights to freedoms of expression, including on internet, assembly and association (Czech Republic).

112.60. Ensure that everyone can peacefully exercise the right of freedom of expression in conformity with the ICCPR (Slovenia).

112.61. Ensure and protect the right of all people to freedom of opinion and expression (Chile).

112.62. Ensure freedom of expression and access to information by ending the practice of interfering with access to the internet and the practice of censorship in online and print media (Germany).

112.63. Rapidly implement the law on freedom of the press in force since January 2013 (Switzerland).

112.64. Step up efforts to promote and facilitate media pluralism and ensure that mass media can operate without government interference (Norway).

112.65. Continue its fruitful endeavours in advancing the use of internet services (Azerbaijan).

113.67. End harassment and intimidation of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists (Czech Republic).

113.68. Ensure the protection of journalists, media personnel, civil society activists and human rights defenders against the attacks and prosecute those responsible for such attacks (Estonia).

113.70. Conduct independent investigations into allegations of torture as well as violations of the rights of human rights defenders and independent journalists, including attacks against their lives and their freedom of movement, and take the necessary protection measures (Spain).

113.78. Promote an open environment where individuals can express diverse views without fear of harassment or prosecution (Poland).

113.83. Reform its relevant legislation to provide for the full enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, the right to the freedom of assembly and the right to freedom of association (Slovakia).

113.84. Uphold full freedom of expression, via the internet and other forms of media, including by allowing access to social networking and other blocked sites and by ensuring that national and foreign journalists can operate without fear of harassment (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

113.85. Ensure that every citizen – including human rights defenders – leaders of opposition parties, religious believers, civil society activists and journalists can peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression in conformity with Turkmenistan’s obligations under the ICCPR (Sweden).

113.86. Ensure that everyone, including human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists can exercise their legitimate activities, even their rights to freedoms of expression and assembly in accordance with the obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Switzerland).

113.87. Take appropriate action to guarantee freedoms of expression, association and assembly – including by allowing independent media, political parties and civil society to operate freely – and ceasing the repression and other ill-treatment of human rights defenders and political activists (Australia).

113.88. Take measures to ensure the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly for human rights defenders, independent journalists and civil society activists and effectively combat intimidation and harassment against them (France).

113.89. Ensure that leaders of all political parties, religious believers, civil society activists and journalists can peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression in conformity with the ICCPR to which Turkmenistan is a party (Hungary).

***

113.75. Facilitate participation by civil society groups, in particular by reforming the system of registration for NGOs working in the country to allow organizations to be established by non-citizens, remove the obligation of having a minimal number of members in order to register, reduce the registration fees, and remove the obligation to notify the authorities of the NGOs’ activities (Canada).

113.76. Put an end to restrictions imposed on Turkmen or international associations and NGOs, especially those working in the field of human rights, such as the strict control of their activities and their financing (France).

113.77. Adopt a legislative and regulatory framework to facilitate the creation and registration of NGOs and associations which guarantee their free activity (France).

113.80. Allow national and international NGOs to conduct their work in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Chile).

113.81. Reform the Law on Public Associations to bring it in line with its obligations under the ICCPR, including by simplifying the legal and procedural requirements for registration by civil society organizations and minimizing reporting obligations to authorities (Ireland).

113.82. Ensure that the procedure of granting legal registrations for NGOs and religious groups be fair, prompt and non-discriminatory (Italy).

 

[1] An oral statement at the UPR pre-sessional meeting will be shorter due to the time limit.

[2] For more information, see http://provetheyarealive.org.

[3] See Annex for the list of all relevant recommendations, accepted by Turkmenistan at the 2d UPR cycle in 2013.

[4] The Constitution of Turkmenistan (new edition). 14.09.2016. http://www.infoabad.com/zakonodatelstvo-turkmenistana/konstitucija-turkmenistana-novaja-redakcija.html

[5] The Iron Doors of Dictatorship: Systematic Violations of the Right to Freedom of Movement in Turkmenistan. Report by the Prove They Are Alive! campaign, September 2016. http://provetheyarealive.org/the-iron-doors-of-dictatorship-systematic-violations-of-the-right-to-freedom-of-movement-in-turkmenistan/

[6] Recommendations 112.59-65, 113.67-68, 113.70, 113.78, 113.83-89.

[7] Turkmenistan sets up commission to assess literary works. Turkmenistan.ru, 22 October 2008. http://www.turkmenistan.ru/en/node/7511.

[8] See reports by Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/04/24/turkmenistan-war-satellite-dishes) and Radio Free Europe (http://www.rferl.mobi/a/qishloq-ovozi-turkmenistan-satellite-campaign/26969998.html) and a joint letter by “Prove They Are Alive!” campaign and other NGOs to the European Commission (http://provetheyarealive.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Joint-letter-to-HRVP-Mogherini-on-Turkmenistan-11.pdf).

[9] Turkmenistan authorities have started a new campaign of demolishing satellite dishes, aiming at fully blocking independent access to international TV and radio. Statement by the Turkmenistan Civic Solidarity Group. 19.04.2015. http://civicsolidarity.org/article/1080/turkmenistan-authorities-ban-satellite-dishes,

[10] Law of Turkmenistan on Television and Radio Broadcasting. Turkmenistan – Golden Age, 13.01.2018 (in Russian). http://www.turkmenistan.gov.tm/?id=15419

[11] Joint NGO Letter on the Detention of Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, 05.07.2016.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/05/joint-letter-detention-saparmamed-nepeskuliev.

[12] Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its seventy-fourth session, 30 November – 4 December 2015. Opinion No. 40/2015 concerning Saparmamed Nepeskuliev (Turkmenistan). http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Detention/Opinions2015AUV/Opinion%202015%2040_Turkmenistan_Nepeskuliev_AUV%20final.pdf

[13] List of the Disappeared in Turkmenistan’s Prisons. Report by the Prove They Are Alive! campaign. February 2018. http://provetheyarealive.org/updated-list-of-the-disappeared/

[14] Turkmenistan: Journalist Harassed, Assaulted. Series of Attacks on Radio Azatlyk Journalists. Press-release by Human Rights Watch. 7 November 2016. https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/07/turkmenistan-journalist-harassed-assaulted

[15] Journalist Suffers Repeat Attack In Turkmenistan. RFE/RL. 14 November 2016. https://pressroom.rferl.org/a/28116700.html.

[16] RFE/RL Correspondent Achilova Threatened With Death In Turkmenistan. RFE/RL, 31 July 2017.

https://pressroom.rferl.org/a/28651354.html

[17] Recommendations 113.67-68, 113.70, 113.75-77, 113.80-83, 113.85-89.

[18] See http://gundogar-news.com, http://chrono-tm.2x2forum.com.

[19] Geldy Kyarizov and Family Threatened by Unidentified Turkmen. Press-release by “Prove They Are Alive!” campaign, 5 October 2015. http://provetheyarealive.org/geldy-kyarizov-and-family-threatened-by-unidentified-turkmen/

[20] Stones Thrown at the apartment of Chronicles of Turkmenistan editor’s mother. Chronicles of Turkmenistan, 2 November 2017, https://www.hronikatm.com/2017/11/.

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