Country report and updates: Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

19/05/1998

1 Conscription

conscription exists

Turkmenistan decided to create its own armed forces in early 1992. However, their first full-scale military exercises did not occur until October 1995. [2]

military service

Military service lasts for two years - although according to another source the period is 18 months. [4] [6]

postponement and exemption

No information available.

recruitment

No information available.

2 Conscientious objection

The right to conscientious objection is not legally recognized and there are no provisions for substitute service. [5]

There are no known cases of conscripts openly refusing to perform military service.

3 Draft evasion and desertion

penalties

Minister of Defence Kopekov stated in 1992 that legislation was being drafted whereby deserters would face "very severe measures, including criminal responsibility". [3]

No further details about this are known.

practice

Draft evasion is widespread and has increased significantly since Turkmenistan became an independent state. It is caused by the poor conditions and human rights violations within the armed forces. Crime is a serious problem in the armed forces: in 1996 even President Niyazov referred to the problem of arms sales, drug smuggling and even the 'sale' of conscripts in remote garrisons by garrison leaders to local farmers. [2]

Desertion too is widespread. In 1994 there was said to be a 20 percent desertion rate - which would indicate approximately 2,000 soldiers deserted from the armed forces that year. [1]

It is not known how far draft evasion and desertion are actually monitored and punished.

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces are 16,000 to 18,000-strong - that is, about 0.40 percent of the population. [4]

Every year approximately 40,000 men reach conscription age. [4]

Sources

[1] Shishlevskiy, Valentin 1994. 'The Evolution of Turkmenistan's Armed Forces', in: Asian Defence Journal, 7/1994. [2] Kangas, Roger D. 1996. 'With an Eye on Russia, Central Asian Militaries Practice Cooperation', in: Transition, 9 August 1996. [3] Amnesty International 1992. Concerns in Europe November 1991 - April 1992. AI, London. [4] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London. [5] Amnesty International 1997. Out of the margins, the right to conscientious objections to military service in Europe. AI, London. [6] UN Commission on Human Rights, 1997. The question of conscientious objection to military service, report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83. United Nations, Geneva.

CO-alerts

Articles related to conscientious objection

19 Mar 2009
English

A/HRC/10/29
Report of the Human Rights Council on its tenth session

(...)

(a) Views expressed by the State under review on the recommendations and/or conclusions as well as on its voluntary commitments and on the outcome

(...)

12 Jan 2009
English

Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir*

Addendum

MISSION TO TURKMENISTAN**

(...)

H. Conscientious objection

28 Feb 2008
English

Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief,
Asma Jahangir

Addendum
Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received

(...)

Turkmenistan
Communication sent on 17 July 2007

31 Aug 2007
English

The last months saw a new wave of imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Turkmenistan, after about two years of relative calm. Forum 18-News reported on 31 August that a fifth Jehovah's Witnesses conscientious objector is now about to be prosecuted.

Forum posts related to conscientious objection