Oil-richness helps to shield Turkmenistan from criticism says Zawya

May 27, 2013

When North Korea, Iran and Kazakhstan start praising your human rights records, it may be time to change tactics. Turkmenistan came under fire at a recent session of the United Nations Human Rights Council where it was questioned by its peers for its torture programs, systematic suppression of free speech and persecution of human rights defenders. Most of the 47 nations questioned Turkmenistans representatives at the UN session, but officials from North Korea and a few other nations rose to Turkmens defense. The reputation of Turkmenistan among global circles is pretty poor, but that has not stopped foreign investors flocking to the country. Turkmenistan has the fourth largest gas reserves in the world and its proximity to some of the worlds largest gas-hungry markets makes it an investment magnet. While Western powers decry president Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedovs complete control over the country, there are few voices of dissent domestically in an era of double-digit growth. Non-governmental organizations still blame Western powers for paying lip-service and remaining largely silent on Turkmenistans human rights record. Its role as a logistic hub for NATO forces in Afghanistan has also resulted in lukewarm criticism of the regime. ┬áStill, Western powers have made some efforts lately to maintain pressure on president Berdymukhamedov to initiate some reforms in the country. Earlier in May, the European Union also discussed human rights issues with Turkmen officials.” The dialogue focused on judicial reform, prison conditions, national institutions for the protection of human rights, civil society development, freedom of expression and media, freedom of religion, the rights of minorities, women, and children, and cooperation in international fora,” said the EU in a statement. “Several individual cases were also raised for discussion.”The problems extend to all facets of society, including oil and gas workers who work for state-owned enterprises or joint ventures with foreign companies.”Turkmenistan represents an extreme risk destination for foreign businesses to invest or operate in as far as governance-related risk factors are concerned,” said Maplecroft, a leading risk analytics, research and strategic forecasting company.The unlimited political power of the executive, frequent and arbitrary regulatory and legislative changes, the lack of a functioning and independent judiciary, and corruption levels that are consistently ranked as among the highest in the world represent the main risks for companies in Turkmenistan.

via Oil-rich Turkmenistan faces global backlash – Zawya.

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