The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Turkmenistan

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#equality #freedom #human_rights #politics #tolerance #turkmenistan

Turkmenistan
[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index131st best
CapitalAshgabat
Land Area 469 930km21
LocationAsia
Population5.9m2
Life Expectancy65.73yrs (2017)3
GNI$14 026 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesTM, TKM, 7955
Internet Domain.tm6
CurrencyManat (TMM)7
Telephone+9938

Turkmenistan is amongst the worst places in the world at ensuring human rights and freedom, and it has severe cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Turkmenistan does worse than average in speed of uptake of HR treaties9 and in LGBT equality10. And finally, it falls into the worst 20 when it comes to commentary in Human Rights Watch reports11 and in supporting press freedom12 (one of the worst in Asia). Turkmenistan is one of the world´s most closed and oppressively governed countries; the government, led by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov controls all aspects of public life and "effectively bans all forms of religious and political expression not approved by authorities", tightly controls the media and disallows any human rights monitoring13. Anyone who questions or criticizes government policies (or even simply tells outsiders about them) faces a "constant threat of reprisal"13. Torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners is widespread and the justice system is so closed that the true scale of issues cannot be determined13.


1. Turkmenistan's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)14,15
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank14,15
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
149St Lucia117.8
150Oman118.7
151Liberia119.1
152Turkmenistan121.3
153Papua New Guinea121.3
154Yemen122.8
155Ethiopia122.9
156Congo, DR123.1
157Gambia123.2
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway14. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine14.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe14, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia14.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

Torture and ill-treatment are widespread and continue with impunity. It is impossible to determine the exact number of people jailed on politically motivated grounds due to the complete lack of transparency in the justice system, closed trials, and severe repression that precludes independent monitoring of these cases.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)13

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)11
Pos.Higher is better
Score11
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
104Indonesia-7
105Ethiopia-7
106Russia-8
107Turkmenistan-8
108Algeria-8
109Central African Rep.-8
110Myanmar (Burma)-9
111Eritrea-9
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)16
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties16
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
75Mongolia17
76Timor-Leste (E. Timor)17
77Estonia17
78Turkmenistan17
79Turkey17
80Morocco17
81Guinea17
82Russia17
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)9
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty9
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
138Gambia12.12
139Ivory Coast12.14
140Trinidad & Tobago12.26
141Turkmenistan12.35
142Serbia12.44
143Indonesia12.45
144S. Africa12.51
145Bahrain12.55
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)12
Pos.Lower is better12
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
171Vietnam7178
172China7307
173Iran7340
174Somalia7359
175Syria7853
176Turkmenistan7914
177N. Korea8390
178Eritrea8483
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.5. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)17
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims17
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
148Belarus1.09
149Brunei1.09
150Myanmar (Burma)1.10
151Turkmenistan1.12
152Rwanda1.16
153Chad1.20
154Sudan1.20
155Mongolia1.23
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory18. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends19. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life20. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves21.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery22. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity23. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.24. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi17, Eritrea17, Indonesia25) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery26.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

See:

3.1. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
29Tajikistan1924
30Mongolia1924
31St Lucia1924
32Turkmenistan1927
33UK1928
34S. Africa1930
35Sri Lanka1931
36Spain1931
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

"Homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under Turkmen law, punishable by a maximum two-year prison sentence"13. There is no chance that this needlessly discriminatory and unfair situation is likely to change any time soon.

LGBT Equality (2017)10
Pos.Higher is better
Score10
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
163Uganda-22
164Oman-22
165Yemen-22
166Turkmenistan-24
167Lebanon-24
168Zimbabwe-24
169St Kitts & Nevis-25
170Botswana-25
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence27. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws28. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries27. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#turkmenistan

The government "effectively bans all forms of religious and political expression not approved by authorities" and severely punishes any gathering or activity that seems religious in nature but is not pre-approved by the state13.