OSCE calls for renewed pressure on Turkmenistan in connection with disappearances

On September 23, Warsaw hosted the annual OSCE meeting to review the implementation of commitments in the human dimension, at which the President of the Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Yuri Dzhibladze, spoke .

On behalf of the Show them alive! Campaign, he addressed members of the delegations of the OSCE participating States with a statement urging states to renew international pressure on the government of Turkmenistan in order to put an end to enforced disappearances in Turkmen prisons, Gundogar reports .

To stop enforced disappearances in Turkmen prisons, it is necessary to resume decisive, consistent and multilateral pressure on the government of Turkmenistan, coordinated between relevant international organizations, including the OSCE, UN, European Union, and individual interested states, said Dzhibladze.

According to the President of the Center, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and OSCE participating States should also redouble their efforts and resources to prevent torture and include enforced disappearances in their anti-torture programs.

Since 2002, the international campaign Show them Alive! Recorded more than 120 cases of disappearances in Turkmen prisons. At least 27 people believed to have disappeared died in custody due to painful conditions and lack of medical care. The true number of people who have forcibly disappeared and died in custody is much higher, said the human rights activist.

According to Dzhibladze, prison sentences of more than a dozen people from the list of disappeared persons have already expired or are expiring in 2019-2020, but there is a high risk that these people may receive additional prison sentences on trumped-up charges. This makes the issue of disappearance in prisons more relevant than ever. Particular attention from the international community to this group of disappeared persons can save their lives.

The statement also emphasizes that last year multilateral international pressure yielded results: the authorities of Turkmenistan decided on an unprecedented step by allowing relatives of the top ten convicts who were briefly in the Ovadan Depe maximum security prison without any connection with the outside world, and also took part in discussing a possible first visit to Turkmenistan by members of the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances. However, since September 2018, this trend has changed and public pressure has been replaced by a soft diplomatic dialogue, as a result of which the Turkmen authorities reaffirmed their position.

As before, the authorities did not disclose information about the families that disappeared, the Turkmen society and the international community, did not comply with relevant decisions of intergovernmental bodies and did not take any significant steps to stop this gross violation of human rights, instead imitating a useless dialogue with international organizations. It is time to finally end this shameful game and the barbaric practice of extinction. The international community must finally show its political will and effectively confront the challenges of this ongoing heinous crime committed by the Government of Turkmenistan, contrary to the fundamental values and principles of the OSCE and incompatible with participation in this organization, the statement said.

Recall that on September 5 at the plenary meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on the occasion of the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the European Union called on Turkmenistan to eradicate the practice of enforced disappearances.

On September 16, the Show them Alive! Campaign published an updated list of convicts who disappeared in prisons of Turkmenistan.

Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan