Prison conditions were unsanitary, overcrowded, harsh, and life threatening. Some facilities, such as minimum security camp LBK-12 in Lebap Province, were located in areas where inmates experienced extremely harsh climate conditions, with excessive heat in summer and frigid temperatures in winter. There were unconfirmed reports of physical abuse of prisoners by prison officials and other prisoners.
Physical Conditions: Official data on the average sentence or numbers of prisoners, including incarcerated juveniles, were not available. According to a 2011 report submitted to the UNCAT by Turkmenistan’s Independent Lawyers Association (TILA) and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, the total prison capacity in the penal colonies and prisons was 8,100 inmates. According to this report, however, the inmate population totaled as many as 26,720 persons in 2009, the most recent total available. This figure did not include detainees kept in pretrial detention facilities, police-run temporary holding facilities, occupational therapy rehabilitation centers, and the military penal battalion. Detainees in pretrial detention facilities were predominantly individuals who had been sentenced but not transferred to penal colonies. The six pretrial detention facilities were reportedly designed for 1,120 persons, but they likely housed three to four times that number.
Authorities typically incarcerated men and women in separate facilities. The number of facilities for female prisoners and detainees was not available, but according to the TILA report, there were 2,010 female prisoners held at the DZK-8 facility in Dashoguz. A pretrial detention facility under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry housed adults and juveniles and accommodated approximately 800 persons. This number included individuals in pretrial detention, on remand, and those already convicted but not yet transferred to penal colonies. A juvenile correctional facility in Bayramali had the capacity to hold 142 boys, although international organizations reported that the facility held an average of 40 to 50 boys at any time. Authorities reportedly kept girls in a ward of the DZK-8 facility separate from adult female inmates.
Diseases, particularly tuberculosis (TB), were widespread. Due to overcrowding, officials reportedly held inmates diagnosed with TB and skin diseases with healthy detainees, contributing to the spread of disease. There continued to be concerns that the government did not adequately test and treat prisoners with TB before they were released into the general population, although the government claimed that it did so. The government reported that it transferred prisoners diagnosed with TB to a special Ministry of Interior hospital in Mary Province for treatment and arranged for continuing treatment for released prisoners at their residences.
The nutritional value of prison food was poor, and prisoners suffered from malnutrition. Prisoners depended on relatives to supplement inadequate prison food supplies. Some family members and inmates stated that prison officials occasionally confiscated these food parcels. The availability of potable water could not be confirmed.
Administration: According to relatives, prison authorities denied supplies to some prisoners and also often denied family members access to prisoners. The government allowed foreign diplomats to access prisoners held on criminal charges who were nationals of their countries. The government did not provide information on prison recordkeeping, whether prisoners were permitted religious observance, or on systematic monitoring of prison and detention center conditions. Alternatives to sentencing for nonviolent offenders included suspended sentences, fines, and garnishment of wages. It was not known whether a prison ombudsman existed.
Independent Monitoring: Government officials continued refusing international observers, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), access to detainees or prisoners. The government and the ICRC continued negotiations on acceptable conditions for regular prison visits. In 2012 the government allowed ICRC officials to visit a penal institution operated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the construction site of a new penal institution.
Improvements: In December the government opened a new 850-person correctional facility for females in Dashoguz, which includes a medical clinic, maternity ward, recreational facilities, and centralized heating and cooling systems. In August the government amended its criminal code to allow prisoners who work to receive government benefits, extra rations, and state pensions. The government moved closer to fully implementing the national action strategy to reform the juvenile justice system, adopted in 2012, which included measures to train law enforcement and justice system officials in the treatment of juvenile offenders, the establishment of rehabilitation and alternative sentencing programs, and training to build the capacity of prison staff to deliver rehabilitation and reintegration services.