End of judicial proceedings against Mr. Andrey Zatoka - TKM 001 / 1109 / OBS 161.1

06/11/2009
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the end of judicial proceedings against environmental activist Mr. Andrey Zatoka, co-Founder of the Dashoguz Ecology Club, shut down by the Turkmen authorities in 2003.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkmenistan.

According to the information received, on November 6, 2009, the Regional Court commuted the five-year sentence of Mr. Andrey Zatoka to the payment of a 350-dollar fine. The latter should therefore be released in the shortest delays.

The Observatory welcomes the end of judicial proceedings against Mr. Zatoka, and thanks all the persons, institutions and organisations who intervened in his favour.

The Observatory nonetheless regrets the fine imposed on Mr. Zatoka, as it stems from fabricated charges and merely aims at sanctioning his human rights activities, in violation of the 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Background information:

On October 20, 2009, Mr. Andrey Zatoka had been physically attacked by an unknown man in the market of Dashoguz. He had then been arrested by two police officers, and later unjustly charged with "hooliganism" (violent action).

On October 29, 2009, Mr. Andrey Zatoka had been convicted for "intentional infliction of medium injuries", and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The trial was hurriedly convened after a four-day public holiday. This prevented many international observers from attending the hearing.

In 2006, Mr. Zatoka had already been detained in his hometown of Tashauz while boarding a flight to Moscow and charged with "hooliganism". He had later been accused of being in possession of weapons and dangerous substances. He was granted a conditional release in January 2007, following pressure from the international community, upon a pledge not to leave the country for three years. In that framework, Mr. Zatoka encountered in 2008 an order of refusal to leave the territory from the Attorney General, although he was scheduled to go to a meeting in Moscow organised by the International Social and Ecological Union and holds a Russian passport[1].

See Observatory Annual Report 2009

Actions required:

Please write to the Turkmen authorities urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Andrey Zatoka as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkmenistan;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Andrey Zatoka as well as all other human rights defenders in Turkmenistan and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their human rights activities without any hindrance;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" and article 12.2, which states that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

iv. Comply with the provisions of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the 2nd Conference on the Human Dimension of the Cooperation and Security Conference in Europe (CSCE) (1990), and guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Turkmenistan.

Addresses:

· President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Presidential Palace, 744000 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Fax: +993 12 35 51 12

· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rashit Meredov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 83 pr. Magtymguly, 744000 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Fax: +993 12 35 42 41. Email: mfatm@online.tm

· Home office, 744000 Achkhabad, ul. 2033 (pr. Makhtoumkouli), d.85, Fax: +993 12 391944

· Ministry of Justice, 744000 Achkhabad, ul. 2022 (A. Navoi), d.86., Fax: +993 12 394410

· Ministry of National Security, 744000 Achkhabad, ul. 2033 (pr. Makhtoumkouli), d.93, +993 12 397158

· Supreme Court of Turkmenistan, Achkhabad, ul. 2022 (A. Navoi), d. 86, Fax: +993 12 355050

· Ambassador Aksoltan Ataeva, Permanent Mission of Turkmenistan to the United Nations, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 424, New York, NY 10017, USA. Fax: +1 (212) 486-2521. E-mail: turkmenistan@un.int

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Turkmenistan in your respective countries.

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