In 2022, the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights received many questions on the topic of lustration. On January 3, 2023, THF organized an online conference on the topic “Does Turkmenistan need lustration?” Human rights defenders and civil activists took part in the discussion.
Dursoltan Taganova spoke about the experience of lustration in the Republic of Estonia, Annadurdy Khadzhiev in Czechoslovakia, Atamyrat Saparov in Poland. In all these states, special laws were first passed and commissions were formed. Former high-ranking officials, secret service workers and their agents were subject to lustration there. Activist “V” summarized the European experience of lustration and emphasized the specificity of this issue for Turkmen society.
The conversation participants came to a consensus that in the event of lustration, Turkmen society should adhere to the goal of humanism and preventing persons who at one time actively assisted in the creation, strengthening and praise of authoritarian regimes from gaining access to new power.
The Turkmens agreed that the guilt of the person in question must be absolutely proven. You cannot call for repression, or draw conclusions only on assumptions or on the basis of belonging to a certain category of civil servants. Nurmukhamed Khanamov and Annadurdy Khadzhiev cited as an example the regime of S. Niyazov, who at one time fabricated criminal cases against them and involved Interpol in this. European law enforcement agencies, having examined the claims from Turkmenistan, came to the conclusion that the requests were politicized, since Ashgabat could not provide any evidence or facts to support the accusation.
Moreover, A. Khadzhiev filed a lawsuit against Bulgaria with the European Court of Human Rights for following the lead of the authoritarian Turkmen regime. A. Khajyev won the case.
According to the chairman of the THF, Tajigul Begmedova, lustration is not and should not be a form of criminal proceedings and should not be used as a substitute for criminal punishment, or as revenge. Since some Turkmen citizens confuse these concepts and consider it correct to use lustration as revenge, retribution for the unlawful actions of a person, the human rights activist drew the attention of listeners to the need to distinguish between actions that are subject to criminal prosecution and lustration.
T. Begmedova also warned that with an illiterate approach, lustration could provoke an atmosphere of “general fear and mistrust.” To avoid this, the participants agreed that lustration is possible only after the adoption of the appropriate law, taking into account the use of the principle of transparency, compliance with all guarantees of fair justice and human rights.
Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights