As Turkmenistan prepares to submit a series of reports on human rights to the United Nations, rights defenders point to major problems in all areas. Foreign minister Rashid Meredov told a September 3 cabinet meeting that four reports would be drafted for to different UN committees. It is unclear what areas the reports will cover, but a foreign ministry speaking on condition of anonymity said they might include counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism efforts, gender equality, child labour, and possibly also racial discrimination.
The official indicated that the finished reports would be carefully screened before being allowed to go to the UN. “Once they are ready, the leadership will read them and only then decide which issues we’ve managed to portray in a more or less positive light, and which reports can be submitted,” he said. Human rights activists both inside and outside Turkmenistan say there is no shortage of issues that should be raised with the authorities. “The most important issues today include violations of freedom of movement and prison rights and conditions,” Farid Tukhbatullin, who heads the Turkmen Human Rights Initiative based in Vienna, said. Tukhbatullin’s group drafts alternative reports for the UN, and has recently submitted a document on Turkmenistan’s record of fulfilling the international Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. An activist in Ashgabat, who is among those whom the authorities have placed on an unofficial travel blacklist, said freedom of movement should be among the issues for which the government should held accountable by the UN. Tajigul Begmedova, who heads the Turkmen Helsinki Fund for Human Rights based in Bulgaria, suspects the government will try to steer clear of anything controversial, and should be pressured to observe its international commitments on human rights.
http://iwpr.net/report-news/turkmen-government-massage-human-rights-reports By News Briefing Central Asia - News Briefing Central Asia 17 Sep 10 This article was produced as part of IWPR’s News Briefing Central Asia output, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.