Prohibition of all corporal punishment in Turkmenistan (2002)
Legislation prohibiting corporal punishment of children in all settings in Turkmenistan was enacted in 2002, though the process of verification of relevant information and obtaining official confirmation that the prohibition is comprehensive has taken many years.
The Law on the Guarantees of the Rights of the Child 2002 was adopted by Parliament on 5 July 2002. Article 24 states (unofficial translation):
(2) Parents (legal representatives) of the child shall care, sponsor, create conditions for growth, development and enhancement of the child, to bring it up in the spirit of humanity ….
(3) Humiliation of the child’s dignity, corporal punishment, other physical abuse harmful for the child’s mental or physical health are inadmissible.”
Early unofficial English versions of these provisions cast doubt as to whether the prohibition was applicable to all corporal punishment, without exception, or only to corporal punishment perceived as harmful. The near universal acceptance of a degree of violent punishment in childrearing means that some degree of physical punishment is typically not readily perceived as harmful; it can even be perceived as for a child’s own good. For this reason, it was necessary to seek official confirmation that the intention of legislators was to prohibit all forms of corporal punishment without exception. Despite numerous efforts to obtain this and opportunities for clarification by the Government presented by examinations by UN treaty bodies, the required confirmation proved elusive.
In 2012, a new Family Code was adopted, article 85 of which reiterates and expands the provisions in the child law, stating (unofficial translation):
(2) Humiliation of the dignity of the child, intimidation, corporal punishment, other physical abuse harmful for the child’s mental or physical health are inadmissible.”
Article 89 states:
(2) When implementing parental rights, parents shall not do injury (harm) to the physical and mental health of the child, its moral development. Methods of education shall exclude neglectful, cruel, … degrading treatment….”
Further efforts were made to verify the prohibition, including preparation of a detailed legal analysis with key questions which was shared with relevant Government officials. In January 2014, the Global Initiative received the necessary confirmation that the law in Turkmenistan is indeed interpreted as prohibiting all forms of corporal punishment in all settings. In a letter dated 13 January 2013, the Permanent Representative of Turkmenistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva informed the Global Initiative:
… I am pleased to inform you that the Turkmen national institute for democracy and human rights under the President of Turkmenistan has carefully studied ‘legal assessment’ and confirms that the relevant provisions in the Family Code 2012 and the Law on Guarantees of the Rights of the Child 2002 are interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment, however light it may be.”
- Global Initiative country report for Turkmenistan