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Turkmen Leader Calls For Liberalizing Criminal Code

Turkmenistan's strict Criminal Code has been blamed for prison overcrowding, leading to poor health conditions in jails.
ASHGABAT -- Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has called on the State Security Council to increase public influence on reforming the country's Criminal Code in accordance with international standards, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Berdymukhammedov also called for an improvement in the performance of law enforcement agencies and proposed reducing the maximum prison sentence for any crime to 15 years -- as it was during the Soviet era -- instead of the current maximum of 25 years.

He also suggested that for some minor crimes convicts should be allowed to pay a fine instead of going to jail.

Ashgabat-based political analyst Ashyrguly Bayriev tells RFE/RL that he welcomes Berdymukhammedov's proposals, adding that their implementation would give hope for democratic developments to take place in Turkmenistan.

The Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and Turkmenistan's Independent Lawyers Association issued a joint report last month in which they stated that Turkmenistan's incarceration rate is one of the highest in the world.

The report blamed the country's strict Criminal Code for prison overcrowding, leading to poor health conditions in jails.