UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Concludes Visit to Turkmenistan
Monday, May 7, 2007 10:18 AM

Ashgabat, 4 May 2007: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, today concluded a two-day visit to Turkmenistan, as part of her visit to Central Asia.

In Ashgabat, the High Commissioner met with the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rashid Meredov, the Minister of Interior, Hodjamyrat Annagurbanov, the Chairperson of the Supreme Court, Yagshygeldy Esenov and the Prosecutor General, Mukhammetguly Ogshukov. She also met with the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan, Richard Young, locally based diplomatic corps and representatives of international and regional governmental organizations.

One of the main purposes of the High Commissioner's visit was the establishment of a Regional Office for Central Asia. She expressed the wish to work closely with the Government, civil society and international partners to address issues of concern in the area of human rights and offered the assistance of her Office in this regard. The High Commissioner and the Government of Turkmenistan agreed to embark on developing, in close collaboration with UNDP, a concrete and extensive technical assistance programme in the area of human rights.

The High Commissioner welcomed Turkmenistan's ratification of most major human rights instruments and the submission by the Government of three reports to the treaty bodies, namely to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. She invited the government to consider ratifying remaining international human rights instruments, among others the new Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which provides a framework for monitoring places of detention, the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She underlined the importance of implementing the Committee's recommendations to the Government and offered the assistance of her Office.

The High Commissioner also welcomed the recent reforms undertaken in the area of education, namely the increase in the number of years of school education offered to students. She encouraged the Government to give special attention to the gathering, analysis and sharing of data related to the situation of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights which would allow the Government and the international community to engage on further reforms in these areas.

In her various meetings, the High Commissioner stressed the importance of empowering civil society and providing it with democratic space for its activities, ensuring proper balance between the executive, legislative and judicial branches, in particular with regard to criminal law enforcement and encouraged the Government to consider the establishment of an independent national human rights institution in conformity with international standards reflected in the 'Paris principles'.

The High Commissioner welcomed the Government's recent invitation to the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. She suggested that the Government of Turkmenistan also issues invitations to other special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council with a view to assessing the situation in the country and proposing solutions to the problems identified.

The visit to Turkmenistan concluded the High Commissioner's journey to Central Asia. Prior to Ashgabat, she visited Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

Published in: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Concludes Visit to Turkmenistan, Press Release, Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, 4 May 2007.