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Turkmenistan: OSCE Report Blasts Rights Abuses

Moscow, 3 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says that torture, mass arrests, and reprisals against suspects' families have been widespread in Turkmenistan since an alleged assassination attempt on President Saparmurat Niyazov (pictured). The draft report for the 55-nation OSCE said Turkmen authorities responded to a 25 November attack on Niyazov last year by detaining and torturing relatives of suspects, televising forced confessions, and staging show trials.

The report for the pan-European security body says the alleged attack was used as a pretext for "large-scale violations of all the principles of due process of law," such as arbitrary detentions and show trials.

The report cites torture and the forced use of drugs as means to obtain confessions.

Copies of the draft report have been made available to Western news agencies as the OSCE's chairman-in-office, Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, met Niyazov today in Ashgabat to talk about mounting human rights concerns.