The UN Committee Against Torture denounces the impunity over the widespread pratice of torture in Turkmenistan

Press release
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Geneva, July 12, 2011 – The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its partner organisations, Turkmenistan’s Independant Lawyer Association (ILA) and Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR), welcome the recommendations made by the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) during its 46th session, held from 3 May to 9 June 2011 in Geneva to the Turkmen government, which largely reflect the concerns raised by our organisations in our report on torture and ill-treatment, faced in particular by detainees in the country.

Despite a few efforts made by the Turkmen authorities, including the adoption of a new Constitution and of an updated Criminal Code, the CAT noted that the State party did not harmonise its domestic law with article 1 of the Convention which defines the crime of torture and that the Criminal Code does not contain provisions specifically establishing liability for torture. The Committee further invited Turkmenistan to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The CAT also expressed its concern at the numerous and consistent allegations about the widespread practice of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in the State party and called on Turkmenistan to take immediate and effective measures to prevent such practices throughout the country. The Committee further noted that the use of forced confessions as evidence in courts is widespread in the State party, and urged to ensure that, in practice, evidence obtained by torture may not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings.

The Committee further urged the State party to take measures to ensure the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and set out an effective mechanism to undertake impartial investigations into allegations of torture or ill‑treatment by police and other public officials, including the establishment of an independent national human rights institution competent to hear and consider complaints and petitions concerning individual situations, to monitor detention facilities, and to make the results of its investigations public.
Our organisations also welcome CAT’s condemnation of the situation suffered by the persons having been arrested and sentenced during closed trials without proper defence and imprisoned incommunicado.
The Committee also recommended the State party to ensure that all detainees are afforded, in practice, all fundamental legal safeguards from the very outset of their detention, including the rights to prompt access to a lawyer and a medical examination by an independent doctor, to contact family members, to be informed of their rights. The committee underlined that the Sate party should grant access to independent governmental and non-government organisations, in particular the ICRC, to all detention facilities.
Finally, our organisations support the Committee’s recommendation made to the Turkmen authorities to release those forcibly placed in psychiatric hospitals for reasons other than medical and to draw up a comprehensive plan to address the issue of violence, including sexual violence and rape, by inmates and prison staff in all detention facilities.
Our organisations call on the Turkmen government to take immediate measures to implement all recommendations of the CAT Committee and will closely monitor this process.

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