UN Human Rights Council Tenth Regular Session
Consideration of UPR Reports
Report of the UPR Working Group on Turkmenistan
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Mark Cassayre
March 19, 2009
Thank you Mr. President.
The United States welcomes Turkmenistan’s new constitution, which provides that judges are no longer subject to the direct control of the president, that the judiciary must uphold civil and political rights and freedoms, and that citizens have the right of petition. However, the judicial system, in practice, still lacks procedures to ensure fair trials, such as the right for defendants to call witnesses to testify on their behalf, the right to a defense attorney or a court-appointed attorney if the defendant cannot afford one, or the presumption of innocence. We encourage Turkmenistan to adopt the recommendation in the Working Group report that Turkmenistan conduct a review of all potentially political cases with a view toward releasing all individuals incarcerated on politically motivated charges; we believe that such a review would advance human rights in Turkmenistan significantly.
We also urge Turkmenistan to accept recommendations in the Working Group report addressing restrictions on freedom of media, assembly, association, and religion.
Although there has been limited constitutional progress in permitting political participation, such as the right of citizens to form political parties, reforms need to be implemented. With its one-party rule, Turkmenistan remains politically monolithic. Adoption of recommendations in the Working Group report to increase emphasis on education and access to media will advance the previously noted reforms and others that the new constitution envisions.