Francois Petre, a Eastern Europe and Central Asia program officer for the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), says there has been no real improvement in the human rights situation in Turkmenistan in recent times.
Petre told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that the improvements that have been made are "facade improvements." She says "Turkmenistan seems to be keen to have a good image abroad."
The FIDH has urged Turkmenistan to allow trade unions, journalists, and civil organizations to operate freely in the country.
Petre said Turkmenistan should begin "implementing all the recommendations from the UN Committee for Human Rights, as [Turkmenistan] has been the subject of several procedures at the UN level."
In a statement today, Human Rights Watch called on Turkmenistan to free what it described as hundreds of activists locked up in jail on politically motivated charges. The call came after Ashgabat released prominent civil rights activist Valeri Pal
on December 7.
"The government should immediately and unconditionally release the other activists, whose only crime was their peaceful human rights work," Human Rights Watch said in a statement. "Hundreds of people, perhaps more, languish in Turkmen prisons following unfair trials on what appeared to be politically motivated charges."