(Brussels) – The European Union is moving ahead on a key trade agreement with Turkmenistan even though the government has failed to meet related human rights benchmarks, Human Rights Watch said today. On April 11, 2016, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee will hold its first hearing on the agreement.
In a March 31 letter, a coalition of 29 human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, urged members of the European Parliament to defer approval of the agreement until the Turkmen government meets the parliament’s human rights benchmarks.
- The unconditional release of all political prisoners;
- The removal of obstacles to free travel;
- Free access for the International Red Cross and other independent monitors; and
- Improvements in civil liberties
“The European Parliament should stick to its principles, and insist that the Turkmen government make real progress on human rights before deepening its relationship with the country through this trade agreement,” Rachel Denber said. “Turkmenistan’s human rights record is so unrelentingly bad, that if the EU were to take the trade agreement’s human rights clause seriously, it would have to suspend the agreement as soon as it was signed.”