By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Asia
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan – The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted against appointing a special rapporteur for Turkmenistan, disappointing several human rights organizations.
Former Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov was known for his reclusive, authoritarian policies and dismal human rights record. According to many experts, the situation in has changed little under the new administration.
The reason for the voting against a special rapporteur was unclear since the vote was taken behind closed doors. The UNHRC declined to explain the vote, citing the vote’s confidential nature. However, Turkmenistan will undergo review again in December along with all other member countries.
Sebastien Gillioz of Human Rights Watch commented, “All UN members will be reviewed, and in December it’s time for Turkmenistan, among others, to be reviewed. It’s a public process, it’s a political process, and a set of recommendations will be adopted after that review. In addition, the special rapporteur on freedom of religion, who visited the country a few weeks ago, will deliver her report in March. So there is a lot of pressure now on Turkmenistan, and that’s a positive outcome for us.”
Leonid Komarovsky, a former Russian journalist and U.S. Citizen, spent five months in a Turkmenistan prison after being accused of plotting to assassinate Niyazov in 2002. He alleges he was drugged and beaten while in prison. He was released from custody after pressure from Washington.
Komarovsky commented on the recent vote, “Unfortunately, nothing has changed for my friends in Turkmenistan. Their situation remains awful. The election of a new president has not brought any changes. The current regime is as abominable as the previous one and continues to brutalize the Turkmen people. Such a regime has no right to exist.”
For more information, please see:
Human Rights Tribune – No Special Rapporteur for Turkmenistan23 September 2008
Human Rights Tribune – A Special Rapporteur for Turkmenistan – 18 September 2008
Radio Free – UN Human Rights Council Fails to Appoint Turkmen Envoy – 30 September 2008