The European Union and Turkmenistan held the ninth round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue in Ashgabat on 25 April 2017.
The dialogue allowed for constructive and open exchanges on a wide range of issues, including the freedom of association, women's and child's rights, minority rights, statelessness, the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the freedoms of expression and of the press, the freedom of religion or belief, and the freedom of movement.
The EU noted its concerns in relation to torture and conditions in detention, the freedoms of expression and of the press, the freedom of association, the freedom of religion or belief, and the freedom of movement. The EU encouraged Turkmenistan to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances. The EU also reiterated its concerns regarding the situation of a number of imprisoned and mistreated citizens of Turkmenistan, while acknowledging the information provided by Turkmenistan on the situation of some of them.
The EU acknowledged positive efforts made by Turkmenistan by the adoption in 2016 of a comprehensive National Action Plan on Human Rights, and by the election of the first Ombudsperson in accordance with the provisions of the recently-revised Constitution, who will have the right, inter alia, to monitor the situation in all penitentiary facilities. The EU also welcomed the visits of foreign diplomats to Turkmenistan's penitentiary facilities in recent months, and the readiness of Turkmenistan to facilitate other such visits in the future.
The Turkmenistan delegation was led by Mr Vepa Hajiyev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, while the EU delegation was led by Mr Toivo Klaar, Head of the Central Asia Division at the European External Action Service. The next round of the EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue is expected to take place in Brussels in 2018.