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Turkmenistan
05.11.09
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary detention and trial in appeal of Mr. Andrey Zatoka

TKM 001 / 1109 / OBS 161
Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment
Turkmenistan

November 5, 2009

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkmenistan.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and trial in appeal of the environmental activist Mr. Andrey Zatoka, co-Founder of the Dashoguz Ecology Club, shut down by the Turkmen authorities in 2003.

According to the information received, on October 20, 2009, Mr. Andrey Zatoka was physically attacked by an unknown man in the market of Dashoguz. He was then arrested by two police officers, and later unjustly charged with “hooliganism” (violent action).

On October 29, 2009, Mr. Andrey Zatoka was convicted for "intentional infliction of medium injuries", and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The trial was hurriedly convened after a four-day public holiday. This prevented many international observers from attending the hearing.

Mr. Zatoka immediately appealed the October 29 ruling, and the hearing in appeal should take place on November 6.

In 2006, Mr. Zatoka had already been detained in his hometown of Tashauz while boarding a flight to Moscow and charged with “hooliganism”. He had later been accused of being in possession of weapons and dangerous substances. He was granted a conditional release in January 2007, following pressure from the international community, upon a pledge not to leave the country for three years. In that framework, Mr. Zatoka encountered in 2008 an order of refusal to leave the territory from the Attorney General, although he was scheduled to go to a meeting in Moscow organised by the International Social and Ecological Union and holds a Russian passport[1].

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment against Mr. Andrey Zatoka, which seems to stem from fabricated charges and to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and therefore calls for the full respect of fair trial standards for Mr. Zatoka in appeal.

The Observatory calls upon the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) field operation in Ashgabat to observe the hearing in appeal and to report on all violations of fair trial standards and other procedural irregularities.

The Observatory more generally recalls that as a participating State of the OSCE, Turkmenistan recognises “the need for particular attention, support and protection for human rights defenders by the OSCE, its institutions and field operations, as well as by participating States”.

Actions required:

Please write to the Turkmen authorities urging them to:

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Andrey Zatoka as well as of all human rights defenders in Turkmenistan;
  2. Release Mr. Andrey Zatoka immediately and unconditionally, since his detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;
  3. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Andrey Zatoka as well as all other human rights defenders in Turkmenistan and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their human rights activities without any hindrance;
  4. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
  5. Comply with the provisions of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the 2nd Conference on the Human Dimension of the Cooperation and Security Conference in Europe (CSCE) (1990), and guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Turkmenistan.

Addresses:

  • President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Presidential Palace, 744000 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Fax: +993 12 35 51 12
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rashit Meredov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 83 pr. Magtymguly, 744000 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Fax: +993 12 35 42 41. Email: mfatm@online.tm
  • Home office, 744000 Achkhabad, ul. 2033 (pr. Makhtoumkouli), d.85, Fax: +993 12 391944
  • Ministry of Justice, 744000 Achkhabad, ul. 2022 (A. Navoi), d.86., Fax: +993 12 394410
  • Ministry of National Security, 744000 Achkhabad, ul. 2033 (pr. Makhtoumkouli), d.93, +993 12 397158
  • Supreme Court of Turkmenistan, Achkhabad, ul. 2022 (A. Navoi), d. 86, Fax: +993 12 355050
  • Ambassador Aksoltan Ataeva, Permanent Mission of Turkmenistan to the United Nations, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 424, New York, NY 10017, USA. Fax: +1 (212) 486-2521. E-mail: turkmenistan@un.int

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Turkmenistan in your respective countries.

Geneva - Paris, November 5, 2009.

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
  • Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

[1] See Observatory Annual Report 2009.

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