The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has found the deprivation of liberty of Turkmen journalist and activist Saparmamed Nepeskuliev to be arbitrary.
The WGAD opinion was issued on December 2, 2015 in response to a petition filed by Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN). ATN claimed that the criminal case against Nepeskuliev was fabricated and was directly related to his work as a reporter.
Nepeskuliev, who contributed video reports to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service and worked as a correspondent for ATN, went missing in July, 2015. In communicado for several weeks, he was eventually located in a detention facility in Turkmenistan's western Balkan province and sentenced to three years in prison on narcotics charges on August 31.
taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the adequate remedy would be to release Mr. Nepeskuliev
In its ruling the Working Group found that Turkmenistan had violated international norms during Nepeskuliev's arrest, detention, and subsequent trial, and expressed grave concern that he may have been subject to mistreatment and torture. It also cited efforts by Turkmen authorities to defame Nepeskuliev, intimidate members of his family, provoke confusion, and silence inquiries about his whereabouts.
The WGAD concluded that Nepeskuliev has been deprived of liberty for having peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.
The Working Group concluded its findings with the opinion that, "taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the adequate remedy would be to release Mr. Nepeskuliev and accord him an enforceable right to compensation."
The findings were communicated to the Turkmen government, which responded with a brief statement that the WGAD said lacks sufficient documentary evidence to challenge its claims.
In addition to calling for Nepeskuliev's release, the WGAD stated that its allegations of torture were of sufficient concern to be referred to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture for appropriate action.
ATN's statement on the Working Group's opinion is here.