Country report and updates: Turkmenistan

Last revision: 19 May 1998
19 May 1998
19/05/1998

1 Conscription

conscription exists

Turkmenistan decided to create its own armed forces in early 1992. However, their first full-scale military exercises did not occur until October 1995. [2]

military service

Military service lasts for two years - although according to another source the period is 18 months. [4] [6]

postponement and exemption

No information available.

recruitment

No information available.

2 Conscientious objection

The right to conscientious objection is not legally recognized and there are no provisions for substitute service. [5]

There are no known cases of conscripts openly refusing to perform military service.

3 Draft evasion and desertion

penalties

Minister of Defence Kopekov stated in 1992 that legislation was being drafted whereby deserters would face "very severe measures, including criminal responsibility". [3]

No further details about this are known.

practice

Draft evasion is widespread and has increased significantly since Turkmenistan became an independent state. It is caused by the poor conditions and human rights violations within the armed forces. Crime is a serious problem in the armed forces: in 1996 even President Niyazov referred to the problem of arms sales, drug smuggling and even the 'sale' of conscripts in remote garrisons by garrison leaders to local farmers. [2]

Desertion too is widespread. In 1994 there was said to be a 20 percent desertion rate - which would indicate approximately 2,000 soldiers deserted from the armed forces that year. [1]

It is not known how far draft evasion and desertion are actually monitored and punished.

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces are 16,000 to 18,000-strong - that is, about 0.40 percent of the population. [4]

Every year approximately 40,000 men reach conscription age. [4]

Sources

[1] Shishlevskiy, Valentin 1994. 'The Evolution of Turkmenistan's Armed Forces', in: Asian Defence Journal, 7/1994. [2] Kangas, Roger D. 1996. 'With an Eye on Russia, Central Asian Militaries Practice Cooperation', in: Transition, 9 August 1996. [3] Amnesty International 1992. Concerns in Europe November 1991 - April 1992. AI, London. [4] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London. [5] Amnesty International 1997. Out of the margins, the right to conscientious objections to military service in Europe. AI, London. [6] UN Commission on Human Rights, 1997. The question of conscientious objection to military service, report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83. United Nations, Geneva.

Recent stories on conscientious objection: Turkmenistan

31 Aug 2018

Courts in Turkmenistan continue to imprison conscientious objectors. Since June, six more conscientious objectors have been imprisoned: one in June, three in July and two in August. This adds to two other conscientious objectors imprisoned in January this year.

There are now eight conscientious objectors from Turkmenistan -all Jehovah's Witnesses aged 18 to 24- known to be imprisoned from one to two years for refusing compulsory military service on religious grounds.

23 Mar 2018

For the first time since 2014, courts in Turkmenistan have again handed down prison terms on young men unable to perform compulsory military service on grounds of religious conscience.

01 Dec 2017

Today is Prisoners for Peace Day, when War Resisters' International and our members remember those imprisoned for their work for peace, and write to them in jail. Please join us!