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Turkmenistan1 October 2008

Incomprehension at UN Human Rights Council’s refusal to name special rapporteur for Turkmenistan

Reporters Without Borders is baffled by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s rejection on 23 September of a draft resolution for the appointment of a special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Turkmenistan. The resolution was proposed by the European Union, Canada, Switzerland and Uruguay.

“We express our total incomprehension at the UN’s inability to establish a mechanism for monitoring human rights in Turkmenistan,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This is one of the world’s most repressive countries and it is vital to put pressure on the authorities to improve the situation of human rights and press freedom.”

The Human Rights Council held an initial meeting behind closed doors on 15 September to look at the question of human rights in Turkmenistan. It met again on 23 September to consider the proposal to name an expert, and rejected it. No member of the council made any comment. As the council has no spokesperson, it is customary to regard its votes as a statement of its position.

Turkmenistan was ranked 167th out of 169 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index and its president, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, is on the Reporters Without Borders list of press freedom predators and Internet enemies.

The press freedom organisation is very concerned about journalist Annakurban Amanklychev and human rights activist Sapardurdy Khajiyev, who have been held in Turkmenbashi prison since 2006. They are serving seven-year sentences for helping a French TV producer prepare a report on Turkmenistan.

The UN Human Rights Council was created on 15 March 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights. The council is a permanent body with 47 member countries that are elected for three-year terms by the UN General Assembly. An absolute majority is needed to be elected.

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