Tuesday, April 10, 2012 -
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday said it has been allowed to visit prisons in the repressive Central Asian state Turkmenistan.
This marks the first time that the Red Cross has been granted access to the prisons in the energy-rich state, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reported.
A delegation from the Red Cross also consulted with government officials, with future cooperation being the subject of the talks.
The international aid agency said it visited a prison run by the country’s interior ministry and also visited a jail that is under construction last week, the AP quoted the ICRC statement as saying.
Turkmenistan, though it is a signatory to many UN protocols on human rights, has never before allowed international access to its penitentiaries.
A report by two local human rights agencies, the Independent Lawyer’s Association and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, estimates that 8,100 Turkmen citizens are currently incarcerated.
Turkmenistan has a population of 5 million people, and has been ruled by an autocrat since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.