Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 5.1 million
Life expectancy 64.6 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 72/56 per 1,000
Adult literacy 99.5 per cent
The whereabouts of dozens of victims of forced disappearance in 2002 remained unknown. Prisoners of conscience continued to be imprisoned for peacefully expressing their beliefs. Freedom of expression, association and religion continued to be restricted.
The authorities continued to withhold information to relatives and the public about the whereabouts of dozens of people arrested and convicted following the alleged armed attack on former President Saparmurad Niyazov in November 2002. Letters from their relatives to various governmental officials remained unanswered.
- The whereabouts of Boris Shikhmuradov, Minister of Foreign Affairs under former President Saparmurad Niyazov, remained unknown. He was sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment in a closed trial in December 2002, increased the following day to life imprisonment by the People's Council which was abolished in 2008. Since then, Boris Shikhmuradov's family have had no news of him. His wife wrote repeatedly to government officials, but received no response. In September 2007, during a visit to Columbia University in the USA, President Berdymukhamedov was quoted as saying he was "positive" that Boris Shikhmuradov was alive. This continues to be the only information about his fate since his life sentence was imposed.
Repression of dissent
All printed and electronic media remained under state control. The authorities continued to block websites run by exiled members of the opposition and dissidents. Journalists working with foreign independent media outlets were harassed by law enforcement and national security service officials. The authorities continued to put pressure on family members of exiled members of the opposition by putting them on a "black list" of people barred from leaving the country.