On 17 May 2016, the European Union and Turkmenistan held the eighth round of their Human Rights Dialogue in Brussels.
The Turkmenistan delegation was led by Mr Vepa Hajiyev, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was accompanied by the Director of the National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, the Chairperson of the parliamentary committee on the protection of human rights, and a senior official from the Ministry of Interior. The EU delegation was led by Toivo Klaar, Head of the Central Asia Division in the European External Action Service.
The parties discussed a range of issues and the EU expressed its readiness to support concrete reforms. The EU welcomed the recent adoption of the National Human Rights Action Plan and encouraged Turkmenistan to consult international experts on the reform of the Constitution.
The EU underlined its concerns about the serious human rights situation in Turkmenistan, including the use of torture, and requested information on the status and location of prisoners who have disappeared in detention. The EU raised individual cases and urged the Turkmenistan government to release a number of specific prisoners.
The EU also urged Turkmenistan to ease major restrictions on freedom of expression, including on the internet, and to facilitate the development of independent civil society organisations. Furthermore, the EU raised the issue of freedom of movement, and encouraged Turkmenistan to permit citizens to travel freely in and out of the country.
The next human rights dialogue between the EU and Turkmenistan will take place in Ashgabat in 2017.