Turkmenistan: UN Human Rights Committee demands right to conscientious objection while objectors go to prison

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While another conscientious objector was sent to prison for two years (see co-alert, 1 May 2012), Turkmenistan's human rights record was for the first time examined by the Human Rights Committee during it's 104th session in New York. Turkmenistan's report to the UN Human Rights Committee under the ICCPR, submitted on 11 January 2010, contained just one sentence on alternative service, only to dismiss it (see report CCPR/C/TKM1 at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/CCPR.C.TKM.1_ru.doc - in Russian). "The laws of Turkmenistan make no provision for alternative service," the sentence in Paragraph 337 declares bluntly. It gives no explanation or amplification.

The right to conscientious objection is not legally recognised in Turkmenistan, and there are no provisions for substitute service. War Resisters' International and other organisations have repeatedly reported on the imprisonment and persecution of conscientious objectors in Turkmenistan, and imprisoned conscientious objectors from the country have regularly featured on WRI's Prisoners for Peace list.

Following the examination of Turkmenistan's report on 15 and 16 March 2012, the Human Rights Committee stated in its Concluding Observations: "The State party should take all necessary measures to review its legislation with a view to providing for alternative military service. The State party should also ensure that the law clearly stipulates that individuals have the right to conscientious objection to military service. Furthermore, the State party should halt all prosecutions of individuals who refuse to perform military service on grounds of conscience and release those individuals who are currently serving prison sentences." (CCPR/C/TKM/CO/1)

Sources: Forum 18 News: TURKMENISTAN: Maximum prison sentence for latest conscientious objector, 18 April 2012; Human Rights Committee: Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, Turkmenistan, 30 March 2012

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