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Turkmenistan: U.S. Expresses Concern At Reports Of Torture

Munich, 19 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. said today it is concerned at reports that torture is being used in Turkmenistan to extract confessions from those accused of participating in the attempted assassination of President Saparmurat Niyazov last month. At a meeting in Vienna today of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the U.S. said it was also worried about reports that family members of suspects had been arrested and some properties confiscated.

The U.S. delegate, Douglas Davidson, said "individuals should be arrested based on evidence of involvement in the attack itself -- not because of alleged ties to opposition organizations or personalities." Davidson said the OSCE had hoped to receive a complete list from Turkmenistan of those in detention along with any charges pending against them and the evidence on which those charges are based. He said confessions extracted by torture would not be admissible in court.

He also criticized what he called the illegal search of the residence of the Uzbek ambassador, and said Turkmenistan should confirm its adherence to internationally agreed-upon diplomatic norms.

Davidson said the United States supported proposals from several European members of the OSCE to send a fact-fi nding mission to Turkmenistan. He urged Turkmenistan to arrange a prompt and thorough visit by an OSCE mission.