Turkmenistan

Six conscientious objectors – all of them Jehovah's Witnesses refusing to be conscripted on grounds of conscience – have been reported to be convicted and sentenced in Turkmenistan so far in 2016. Five of the COs were sentenced to two-year suspended prison terms for their refusal to compulsory military service, and a sixth received a one-year corrective labour sentence, where he lives at home under restrictions and a fifth of his wages are seized.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has found that the state of Turkmenistan has violated Article 7, Article 10(1), Article 14(7) because he was tried and sentenced twice for his refusal to do military service and Article 18(1).

7.2...The Committee takes note of the author’s claim that, upon arrival at the LBK-12 prison on 3 April 2012, he was subjected to ill-treatment by the prison guards in violation of article 7 of the Covenant. It notes that the author has provided a detailed description of the manner in which he was ill-treated while in isolation, as well as the identity of the organizer of his ill-treatment. The author claimed that he was placed in the colony’s isolation block for 10 days, was beaten, subjected to “goose stepping”, doing push-ups, running, and sitting on the floor with stretched-out legs. The Committee further notes that the author’s detailed allegations and his argumentation regarding the lack of adequate mechanisms for investigation of torture claims in Turkmenistan were not refuted by the State party. The Committee also recalls that complaints of ill-treatment must be investigated promptly and impartially by competent authorities.1 In the absence of any other pertinent information on file, the Committee decides that due weight must be given to the author’s allegations. Accordingly, it concludes that the facts as presented reveal a violation of the author’s rights under article 7 of the Covenant.

Ruslan Narkuliyev, the last Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector imprisoned in Turkmenistan's Seydi labour camp was released on 17 February in part of a President's amnesty, the Turkmen government's 'Flag Day'. This follows the release of the other eight Jehovah's Witness COs who had been in Seydi labour camp up until October. Ruslan had been sentenced to two years' imprisonment in September 2014.

There remains one Jehovah's Witness conscientious, Soyunmurat Korov, who is still being detained – but in a military hospital. Jehovah's Witness in Turkmenistan told Forum 18 that he is being held against his will.

Sources: Forum 18, http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2009, 28 October 2014; WRI, December CO Update,  12 December 2014; Forum 18, TURKMENISTAN: Two amnestied prisoners, conscientious objector in hospital, beaten "Wahhabis", 19 February 2015

The cases of ten Turkmen Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors are being considered by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The complainants, led by Navruz Nasyrlaev, filed complaints of torture and violation of their rights to freedom of religion or belief with the UN Human Rights Committee on 3 September 2012.

These complaints have noted that in the Seydi Labour Camp - where most conscientious objectors (COs) are held - COs have regularly been subjected to spells in the punishment cell, whilst some have been brutally beaten.

Human Rights Committee
104th session
New York, 12–30 March 2012
CCPR/C/TKM/CO/1

Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 40 of the Covenant

Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee

Turkmenistan

(...)

The central Asian republic of Turkmenistan passed a new law on military duty and military service, which reduces the upper age limit for military from 30 to 27 years. The age of conscription remains at 18 years. According to the State News Agency of Turkmenistan, this legislative document provides the definition of the notion of the armed forces and other military divisions, the authorities and official duties of the management staff of the abovementioned bodies in compliance with the provisions of the Military Doctrine of Turkmenistan.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief,
Asma Jahangir

Addendum
Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received

(...)

Turkmenistan
Communication sent on 17 July 2007

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