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League Releases Alternative Report on the Rights of the Child in Turkmenistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

The League’s Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Uncovers Numerous Violations of Children’s Social, Cultural and Civil Rights in Turkmenistan.

 ( New York, NY) – May 19, 2006. A new report from the International League for Human Rights finds that violations of the rights of children are widespread in Turkmenistan and a direct result of the government’s policies. The League’s report challenges Turkmenistan’s first official submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by presenting an in-depth critique of the government’s human rights record and its impact on children’s rights.

The government’s “recently proclaimed reforms in health care, education, employment, military service and social security…have had extremely adverse effects [on children],” states the report by the New York-based non-governmental organization. Turkmenistan presents false or distorted figures on all of its socio-economic and demographic indicators, including population size, life expectancy, infant and child mortality, access to health care facilities and various forms of education. It also conceals the true extent of government-sanctioned child labor in this cotton-producing nation, as well as the spread of dangerous infectious and viral disease among the population.

State-sponsored discrimination against ethnic minorities has resulted in their exodus from Turkmenistan in unprecedented numbers, the virtual elimination of a once vibrant minority-language education and in targeting minority children by assimilative practices such as forcing them to wear Turkmen national dress and speak the Turkmen language.

On the orders of Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan’s President-for-life, the length of secondary education was reduced from eleven to nine years, enrollment at universities limited to approximately 3,000 students from almost 40,000 in the early 1990s, and the educational process is now based upon the study of President Niyazov’s ubiquitous ideological work, the Rukhnama, which is imposed as ‘a spiritual guide for the Turkmen people.’

Children’s access to health care was undermined by a Presidential decree that dismissed more than 15,000 medical workers from employment and disbanded or merged medical facilities in smaller cities and rural areas. Disease-prevention and vaccination programs are jeopardized by the government’s ban on mentioning communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cholera, tuberculosis, dysentery or the plague.

The official Turkmenistan submission to the 42nd session of the UN CRC, “offers an unprecedented opportunity to consider the country’s human rights record, and in particular its treatment of children, before an international body,” says the League. The CRC will review the government report on May 24, 2006 and is expected to issue its concluding observations after June 2, 2006, when the current session ends.

The full text of the League’s alternative report can be found here

Contact : Sergei Kalamytsau, Central Asia Researcher, centralasia@ilhr.org; Phone: (212) 661-0480 ext. 101; Mobile: (718) 608-5526

Based in New York, with representation in Geneva and dozens of affiliates and partners around the world, the League is a non-governmental, non-profit organization now in its 65th year with consultative status at the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the International Labor Organization. The League contributes to the African Commission and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). With the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as its platform, the League raises human rights issues and cases before the UN and other inter-governmental regional organizations in partnership with our colleagues abroad, to amplify their voices and coordinate strategies for effective human rights protections.

 


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