Prison conditions were unsanitary, overcrowded, harsh, and life threatening. Some facilities, such as minimum security camp LBK-12 in Lebap Province, were 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 UN Convention Against Torture by Turkmenistan’s Independent Lawyers Association and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, the total prison capacity in the penal colonies and prisons was 8,100 inmates. According to an article by the Union of Independent Journalists of Central Asia, the inmate population totaled 30,568 persons in 2013. This figure may not have included detainees kept in pretrial detention facilities, police-run temporary holding facilities, occupational-therapy rehabilitation centers, and the military penal battalion. Persons in pretrial detention facilities were predominantly individuals who had been sentenced but not transferred to penal colonies. The six pretrial detention facilities reportedly were designed for 1,120 persons, but they likely housed many 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 there were approximately 2,000 female prisoners held at the women’s correctional facility in Dashoguz, reportedly built for 2,500 prisoners. The BLD-4 pretrial detention facility in Balkan Province under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry reportedly housed adults and juveniles and accommodated approximately 800 persons. This number included individuals in pretrial detention, on remand, and those already convicted but not transferred to penal colonies. A juvenile correctional facility in Bayramali had the capacity to hold 142 boys, although international organizations reported 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. There were some reports that due to overcrowding officials held inmates diagnosed with TB and skin diseases with healthy detainees, contributing to the spread of disease. Nonetheless, a representative of an international organization reported that at least in and around Ashgabat, authorities held inmates with TB separately from healthy detainees. There continued to be concerns that the government did not adequately test and treat prisoners with TB before they returned to the general population, but 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. Some family members and inmates stated prison officials occasionally confiscated food parcels. It was not possible to determine whether potable water was available.
Administration: According to relatives, prison authorities denied food, medical, and other supplies brought by family members to some prisoners and sometimes denied them access to prisoners. The government allowed foreign diplomats to access nationals of their countries in detention facing criminal charges. 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: In August government officials allowed the OSCE and the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit a women’s prison in Dashoguz. In November the government granted approval for a delegation of U.S. and EU representatives to visit the facility.
Improvements: In March law enforcement officials participated in an OSCE-organized study tour to London on prison management practices. In November officials participated in a five-day training organized by the OSCE on international standards on the rights and treatment of prisoners. There were reports that treatment of prisoners and food quality improved in correctional facilities in Ahal, Lebap, and Mary provinces. In 2013 the government opened a new 2,500-person correctional facility for females in Dashoguz, which included medical clinics, a maternity ward, recreational facilities, and centralized heating and cooling systems. The facility also included a workshop for making prison uniforms, and inmates reportedly are paid for their labor. In 2013 the government amended its criminal code to allow prisoners who work to receive government benefits, extra rations, and state pensions.