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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan’s constitution contains provisions for the protection of the environment. Article 15 reads: “The state shall be responsible for safeguarding the national historical, cultural and natural heritage, natural environment, ensuring equality between social and ethnic communities. The state shall encourage scientific, technical and artistic creativity and distribution of its positive results. The state shall promote development of international cooperation in the fields of culture, training, sports and tourism.”

Article 53, on the other hand, states: “Everyone shall have the right to an enabling environment for life and health, credible information on its state, compensation of damage caused to health and property as a result of violation of environmental law or natural disasters. The state shall control the rational use of natural resources in order to protect and improve healthy living conditions, as well as conservation of the stable natural environment. Everyone shall be obliged to protect nature, take good care of the environment and natural wealth.”

Featured Legislation

2002:The Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was created. The Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan is a national strategic document of Turkmenistan covering the period 2002-2010. Its main objective is to conserve, restore and sustainably use the biological diversity of Turkmenistan for present and future generations.

2009: Law No. 53-IV “On protection of ozone layer" was passed. This Law establishes legal, economic and organizational grounds for protection of ozone layer, and also state management and control in the sphere of management of ozone depleting substances, and is aimed at the prevention of destruction of ozone layer, reproduction thereof with a view of protection of human health and environment. The Act consists of 4 Sections divided into 16 articles: (1) general provisions; (2) competence of state bodies in the sphere of protection of ozone layer; (3) main areas of activity for the protection of ozone layer; and (4) conclusive provisions. The main tasks of state regulation in the sphere of protection of ozone layer shall be: (a) enforcement of the provisions of Vienna Convention, Montreal Protocol and international agreements concluded by Turkmenistan related to protection of ozone layer; (b) restrictions on circulation of ozone depleting substances; (c) licensing of import, export and manufacturing of ozone depleting substances and produce containing them; and (d) liability for violation of the national legislation on protection of ozone layer.

2011: The Forest Code was enacted. This Code regulates relations concerning sustainable forest management – conservation, protection, management and reproduction of forests. Forest legislation shall be based upon the following principles: (a) sustainable forest management, conservation of biological diversity and increase of forest potential; (b) conservation of protective and recreational functions of forests; (c) multi-purpose and rational management of forests; (d) increase of forest productivity; (e) protection and conservation of forests; (f) classification of forests by purposeful use; and (g) payment for the use of forests and forest resources (Art. 4). The Act consists of 12 Sections divided into 68 articles: (1) general provisions; (2) forest fund; (3) classification of forests; (4) state forest management; (5) state forestry supervision; (6) ownership and management of forest fund; (7) monitoring, forest organization, forest registration and forest register; (8) afforestation and reforestation; (9) compensation; (10) conservation and protection of forest fund; (11) dispute settlement and liability; (12) international cooperation. All the forests located on the territory of Turkmenistan, independently of the category of land on which they are located, shall form forest fund (Art. 8). Forests shall be classified as follows: (a) protection forest; (b) special purpose forests; and (c) production forest (Art. 11). State forest service shall be the authorized state institution in the sphere of forestry carrying out the following functions: (a) enforcement of forest legislation; (b) protection of forests and prevention of forest fires; (c) supervision over hunting; (d) pest control; (e) contrasting illegal logging; and (f) supervision over state, management and reproduction of forests (Art. 21).

2012: The National Climate Change Strategy of Turkmenistan was approved. This National Climate Change Strategy is a sectoral nationwide document, under the umbrella of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aiming to lay out in Turkmenistan the policy framework for building climate resilience and a low-emission economy, considered as a prerequisite condition for the sustainable social and economic development. The Strategy follows a twin-track approach in facing climate change issues, facilitating and strengthening the country’s growth rate trends while being a catalyst for modernization, diversification and fortification in all economic sectors, to increasing the country’s profile on the global markets, and improving its competitive capacity through upgrading technology and energy effectiveness.

2014: the Law “On environmental protection" was ratified. This Law determines legal, economic and organizational grounds for environmental protection and is aimed at ensuring ecological security, prevention of negative environmental impact of economic activities on ecosystems, conservation of biological diversity and rational management of natural resources. Basic principles of environmental protection shall be as follows: (a) right to clean and healthy environment; (b) ensuring sustainable development of favorable environment; (c) ensuring environmental security; (d) protection, conservation and rational management natural resources; (e) payment of use of natural resources; (f) mandatory environmental impact assessment and environmental audit; (g) public participation in environmental protection; and (h) organization of ecological education.

2016: The Law “On protection of the atmospheric air" was created. This Law sets forth legal and organizational grounds for protection of the atmospheric air against emissions of pollutants and ensuring environmental security and prevention of negative impact of economic activities on human health and environments. Atmospheric air protection shall be based upon the following principles: (a) ensuring the right to favorable environment and public health protection; (b) public management and regulation of emissions; (c) introduction of eco-friendly and resource saving technologies and processes with a view of reduction of emissions to the atmospheric air; (d) rate setting for emissions; and (e) availability of and access to reliable information related to air quality.

2016: The Law “On plant protection" was introduced. This Law establishes legal, economic and organizational grounds for plant protection against pests, diseases and weeds, and is aimed at crop protection. Plant protection shall be based upon the following principles: (a) protection of human health and ensuring environmental security in the process of plant protection arrangements; (b) scientific, ecological and economic substantiation of plant protection arrangements; (c) priority of application of biological plant protection means; (d) transparency and timely submittal of information related to the issues of plant protection. Public competent authority in the sphere of plant protection shall be responsible for: (a) realization of state policy in the sphere of plant protection; (b) registration and classification of particularly harmful pests, diseases and weeds; (c) testing of plant protection means subject to state registration; (d) keeping of state register agrochemicals, including pesticides and fertilizers; and (e) public control in the sphere of plant protection.

2016: The Water Code was promulgated. This Water Code regulates relations in the field of sustainable and rational use of water in order to meet the needs of legal entities and individuals for water resources and is aimed at increasing the importance of water resources, ensuring the protection of water from pollution, pollution and depletion, prevention and elimination of the negative impact of water, restoration and improvement of the condition of water bodies. The relations arising in the field of potable water water use and potable water supply shall be regulated by this Water Code and the legislation of Turkmenistan on potable water. The relations arising in the field of use and protection of sea and transboundary waters shall be regulated by this Water Code and international treaties of Turkmenistan. The objectives of water legislation of Turkmenistan shall be to achieve and maintain an ecologically safe and economically optimal level of water use and to ensure water protection in order to improve the living conditions of the population and preserve the environment. The tasks of water legislation of Turkmenistan shall be as follows: (a) implementation of the state policy in the field of use and protection of water fund, water supply and sewerage; (b) provision of the legal basis for support and development of sustainable water use and protection of water fund, water supply and sewerage; (c) management of relations in the field of study, exploration, rational and integrated use and protection of water resources, irrigation and drainage systems and waterworks; (d) determination of the directions of development of the water sector and improvement of land reclamation; and (e) protection of the population, territory and business facilities from emergency situations at waterworks and consequences caused by them. Water legislation of Turkmenistan shall be based on the following basic principles: (a) acknowledgement of the state importance of water, which is the basis for socio-economic development of the country and preservation of public health; (b) state management and state control in the field of water use and protection; (c) provision of equal access to water for the population; (d) sustainable and rational use of water resources; (e) integrated water resources management; (f) combination of administrative-territorial and basin principles of water resources management; (g) creation of optimal conditions for water use, preservation of environmental sustainability and sanitary-epidemiological safety of the population; (h) priority of fresh water use for potable water needs in accordance with quality standards; (i) prevention of pollution, siltation and depletion of water; (j) participation of citizens and public associations in addressing issues related to the use and protection of water bodies, in the preparation of solutions; (k) public participation in decision-making related to water management; (l) payment for special water use, with the exception of certain types of special water use established by the Cabinet of Ministers; (m) liability for violations of water legislation; (n) compensation for damage caused as a result of violations of water legislation; and (o) international cooperation in the field of water use and protection, including through the regulation of water relations within the basins of transboundary water bodies. Water fund of Turkmenistan is the exclusive property of the State. The right to own, use and manage water funds belongs to the Cabinet of Ministers. This Water Code consists of XXV Chapters divided into 120 Articles. Chapter I lays down general provisions. Chapter II regards state management in the field of use and protection of water. Chapter III establishes state control in the sphere of use and protection of water. Chapter IV regards state planning in the sphere of use and protection of water. Chapter V regards state registration and state monitoring of water. Chapter VI establishes water rights and classifies water uses. Chapter VII establishes rights and duties of water users. Chapter VIII establishes the grounds and the procedure for cessation of water rights. Chapter IX establishes the procedure for the use of water bodies for potable water supply and water supply for municipal services. Chapter X establishes the procedure for the use of water for healthcare, medicinal and recreational purposes. Chapter XI regards use of water bodies for agriculture. Chapter XII regards use of water for industrial purposes and the energy sector. Chapter XIII regards use of water for fisheries, hunting, forestry and use of water bodies located in protected areas. Chapter XIV regards use of water for transport and fire-extinguishing purposes. Chapter XV regards use of water bodies for effluent wastewater discharge and discharge of drainage water. Chapter XVI regards management of water reservoirs. Chapter XVII regards use of rivers. Chapter XVIII regards protection of water bodies. Chapter XIX regards water protection areas and coastal areas of waterbodies. Chapter XX regards prevention and mitigation of negative consequences of negative impact of water and accidents at water bodies. Chapter XXI establishes requirements for location, projecting, construction, reconstruction and putting in operation of facilities, works and other objects causing impact on the state of water. Chapter XXII regards rate setting and standardization in the field of use and protection of water. Chapter XXIII regards regulation of water use by economic methods. Chapter XXIV regards dispute settlement. Chapter XXV establishes liability for the infringement of water legislation. Chapter XXVI regards international cooperation.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • For some, Turkmenistan is an extremely repressive and closed country, with the government severely restricting all fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedoms of association, expression, and religion. According to environmental activists, running a non-governmental organization without registration is punishable by a fine, short-term detention, and confiscation of property. For example, in 2019, Turkmenistan ranked last in the Word Press Freedom Index, remaining closed to any independent scrutiny and activists. Independent correspondents critical of the government face intimidation, harassment, physical attacks, and imprisonment. Environmentalist Farid Tukhbatullin is one of the many who experienced this first-hand. Tukhbatullin was one of the leaders of the Dashoguz Ecological Club, a non-governmental organization focusing on the environmental problems affecting the Aral Sea region and protected areas. His work involved raising public awareness of environmental issues and improving Turkmenistan’s environmental law, but in the early 2000s, he was detained in Dashoguz for having attended a human rights conference in Moscow where members of the Turkmen political opposition were present. The court sentenced him to 3 years in prison. Following pressure from international organizations and environmental and human rights groups worldwide, the President of Turkmenistan pardoned him but Tukhbatullin continued his crusade, criticizing Turkmenistan’s human rights record during a television interview and Turkmen authorities continued their pattern of intimidation, threats and violence against Tukhbatullin and other civic activists and journalists and their relatives.

References and Further Reading


Minister of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan: minagri@online.tm