The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Turkmenistan to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Turkmenistan's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the 2009 International Religious Freedom Report
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government's democracy and human rights efforts focus on persuading the government to honor its international human rights commitments and strengthening the rule of law. The United States seeks to assist the government in establishing a more transparent system of administration and to identify legislative areas in need of reform. The United States also emphasizes the critical importance of internal and external freedom of movement and respect for freedoms of the press, speech, assembly, and religion. The U.S. Government seeks to open a dialogue directed towards identifying potential areas for bilateral cooperation, including providing training to build government and private sector capacity, strengthening civil society and access to information, and promoting transparency and accountability in the law-enforcement community and judicial system. The United States regularly advocates on behalf of individual human rights cases and coordinates its activities closely with NGOs, other diplomatic missions, and international organizations. .
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic Governance
The United States stresses the importance of freedom of information, media, and speech through public statements, Internet, legislation and professional development projects, and visiting speakers. The U.S. Government sponsored eight speaking events to a range of audiences, addressing U.S. elections and campaigns, HIV/AIDS prevention, environmental protection, and journalism. The U.S. Government sends local professionals, government officials, and students to the United States and other countries for short- and long-term study or training that exposes them to an open, democratic society, American institutions, and a free-market economy. Participants study subjects including the organization and administration of scientific programs, U.S. foreign policy, human rights, broadcast journalism, mass media development, civil disaster response, and the rule of law.
The U.S. Government funds projects proposed and implemented by local civil society organizations to promote civil society and democratic development. Projects include conducting youth civic education and leadership camps and seminars; integrating women into society by providing education in marketable skills; establishing information resource centers with free access to the Internet and American media; fostering a market-based economy through entrepreneurial training workshops, legal consultation services, and promotion of networking among small businesses; and educating persons with disabilities in new skills such as computer literacy, job search skills, and entrepreneurship. The United States funds a gender advocacy program that raises awareness of domestic violence and trains a cadre of social advocates around the country to advise and assist women on issues related to domestic violence and to press for reform. Building on past U.S. Government support to civil society capacity-building programs, U.S. implementing partners are introducing international models and best practices on local governance, to simplify the process for citizens to obtain information and to request documents and information from their local government structures.
The U.S. Government supports greater access to information to create a network of well-informed citizens with access to local, regional, and international resources. The United States continued to fund a project to provide free Internet access for the general public at the National Library. The U.S. Government maintains five centers throughout the country providing Internet, computer, and web design services to 22,000 users including NGOs, youth groups, students, teachers, researchers, and others.
The chief of mission and other U.S. officials engage government counterparts on a variety of issues related to human rights and democracy promotion. The United States continues to offer to assist the government to meet a wide range of international human rights commitments, including by revising its laws on religion, public organizations and mass media. U.S. officials maintain regular contact with representatives of various citizens' groups and local NGOs, victims of alleged human rights violations and their family members, and the few independent journalists. The United States advocates on behalf of individuals and groups, pressing for the release of prisoners of concern and encouraging the legal registration of NGOs and minority religious groups and accreditation for independent journalists. The United States also continues to promote religious freedom in the country by meeting with representatives of religious groups and encouraging the government to ease pressure and harassment of minority religious groups.