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HRW Urges EU To Stop Turkmen Trade Deal

(RFE/RL) BRUSSELS, March 22, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging the European Parliament to halt consideration of a trade agreement with Turkmenistan.

The European Parliament is due to consider an interim trade agreement with Turkmenistan -- seen as a prelude to a full Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Human Rights Watch said it was "shocking" that the EU would choose to reward the Turkmen government, which HRW says the EU knows is "an egregious human rights violator."

HRW says Turkmenistan's government tolerates no dissent, allows no media or political freedoms, and has driven into exile or imprisoned political oppositionists, human rights defenders, and independent journalists.