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Turkmenistan To Pardon Thousands Of Prisoners

An empty prison in western Turkmenbashi city (file photo)

An empty prison in western Turkmenbashi city (file photo)

ASHGABAT -- Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has signed a decree granting amnesty to nearly 4,000 convicts in honor of a national holiday, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

A total of 3,934 prisoners will be released on December 12, Turkmenistan's Neutrality Day.

Turkmen media outlets have published a list of the prisoners to be pardoned and some 80 percent of them are aged between 20-35 years.

There are no political prisoners on the list.

The amnesty will be the third one in 2009.

The first amnesty was granted ahead of National Flag Day on February 19, and the second prisoner release was done to mark Gadyr Gijesi, the final night of Ramadan.

Amnesty International spokeswoman Lidia Aroyo told RFE/RL from London that Berdymukhammedov has still not lived up to his promises about improving the human rights situation in the country.

She said that the disappearances, detention, and imprisonment of people exercising their right to freedom of expression and association as well as torture and ill treatment in prison continues in Turkmenistan.

Aroyo said Amnesty International is concerned that when government amnesties are arbitrary they do not necessarily serve justice.