Legal scholars welcome the effort, which will include easing punishments for some violations, but call for wider legal awareness. By Jumaguly Annayev
ASHGABAT – Turkmen officials are preparing the country for legal reforms that are expected to take effect January 1.
The parliament at the end of August passed a new Code of Administrative Offences, which will lighten punishments for violation of several laws.
«We needed time to … determine the level of fines and to produce a mechanism for financing government agencies from fines collected,» Justice Ministry official Begench Agayev told Central Asia Online in explaining the gap between passing the code and enacting it.
At the same time, the administrative code differs in many ways from its predecessor, which the then-Turkmen SSR enacted in 1984, according to several ministry spokesmen.
«It is apparent that the [new code] trends toward honouring the principles of rule of law; presumption of innocence; equality before the law; respect for human rights and liberties; and the sanctity of personal life, property and justice,» Agayev said, stressing that the code includes 591 articles, compared to the existing 319.
Decriminalisation of offences
The coming administrative code will encompass many offences that once meant prison time, Amangozel Khanalyyeva, an Ashgabat lawyer, said.
The decriminalisation of many offences will reduce prison crowding, she said.
«That’s a good thing,» she said. «Previously someone convicted of moderately harming a victim’s health through negligence went straight to prison. Now he or she will pay a fine or will serve only 15 days in jail.»
Kakhkhor V., a lawyer from the Ashgabat prosecutor’s office, noted a proviso that makes companies and agencies, not just individuals, punishable for committing administrative offences.
«The code lists 120 offences, like encroaching on citizens’ rights, health, property, the environment, etc., which can now be committed by a company or agency,» Arslan Khojagulyyev, an employee of the prosecutor’s office, told Central Asia Online. That change is an improvement, he said.
Too much authority?
While some of the reforms have merit, legal scholars and laypeople expressed concern about the fact that the code expands the number of officials empowered to initiate proceedings for administrative offences, saying that enables corruption.
And Khanalyyeva raised the question of whether the government might over-reach when it comes to collecting fines.
«What would stop officials with the power to fine from overdoing it?» she asked.
Begench Agayev, an official of the Justice Ministry, said such concerns aren’t baseless. Indeed, the ministry has considered such possible developments themselves.
«Therefore we will have a hot line where people can call and report should such cases happen. We will be checking constantly to make sure this doesn’t happen,» he said.
Comprehensive instruction in law needed
The new code is one of the fundamental documents affecting all citizens and government officials, Khanalyyeva and other Turkmen attorneys agree.
«To strengthen the rule of law and law and order, and to implement civil rights and liberties fully, it isn’t enough to adopt a good code or law,» she said. «You have to teach the public to use it.» She suggested courses of legal instruction for residents of the provinces.
«A people ignorant of the law will always believe that ‘might makes right,'» she said.
Web Resource: CENTRAL ASIA ONLINE
Читайте на Русскйи: Туркменистан планирует правовую реформу в 2014
- How Old is Ashgabat? — آشکاباد نأچه یاشئندا؟ (elwanyyldyz.wordpress.com)
- Ethnography II — Turkmenistan — digest (elwanyyldyz.wordpress.com)
- Ashgabat hosts ‘Turkmenistan’s Oil and Gas’ exhibition and conference (en.trend.az)
- Participants of Geoktepe storm frankly admires with its defenders (elwanyyldyz.wordpress.com)
- Evaluating destination — Turkmenistan (moonikaeinaste.wordpress.com)