Amnesty Int'l Slams Turkmen Preelection Clampdown

The rights watchdog Amnesty International has criticized Turkmen authorities for their "total repression" ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for December 15.

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia program director, said in a statement issued on December 12 that holding the elections will not address the denial of basic humaan rights and the atmosphere of "all-permeating fear" that has gripped society for years.

Dalhuisen added that "all pretense of progress on human rights is simply deceitful."

Dalhuisen said torture is widely used in Turkmenistan to elicit confessions and secure convictions in unfair trials.

The statement also slammed a new law on mass media that Amnesty International says has not created space for a genuinely independent media.

RFE/RL correspondents in Turkmenistan were mentioned by Amnesty as being singled out for harassment by the security services and repeatedly imprisoned.