Turkmenistan

 CountryType of Law 
 
 

Criminal Defamation

The laws of Turkmenistan have the concept of “defamation” in the Code of Administrative Offenses and in the Criminal Code . It should be noted that the Law of Turkmenistan “Of making amendments in the Criminal Code of Turkmenistan” significantly narrows and reduces the scope of responsibility and the scope of application of the concept of “defamation”.

Criminal Code:

Defamation (Art. 132) : Defined as the dissemination of information known to be false that impugns the honour and injures the dignity of another person or damages his/her reputation, if it appears in public speech, publicly displayed piece of work, or in mass media. The penalty is a fine of 10 to 30 times the average monthly wage.

If the act results in severe consequences or consists in the accusation of a serious crime, the penalty is a fine of 30 to 50 average monthly wages or imprisonment for up to three years.

The criminal offence of insult was repealed in 2013 .

Code of Administrative Offenses:

Defamation (Art. 337): Defined as the dissemination of information known to be false that impugns the honour and injures the dignity of another person or damages his/her reputation, if it does not result in severe consequences. The penalty is a fine of five to 10 times the minimum wage or administrative detention for up to 15 days.

Insult (Art. 338): Defined as the intentional disparagement of another person’s honour or dignity in an obscene manner if it does not result in damage. The penalty is a fine of five to 10 times the base amount. If the act results in damage or is committed through public speech, a publicly displayed work or the mass media, the penalty is a fine of 10 to 20 times the minimum wage or administrative detention for up to 15 days.

Art. 266 of the Code of Administrative Offences (Misuse of the freedom of the mass media and the rights of journalists) should also be noted. This article defines misuse of the freedom of the mass media and the rights of journalists by an editorial board or a journalist as:
1) Disclosure of information that is forbidden for disclosure by the laws of Turkmenistan;
2) Failure to check preparation of materials published in mass media in accordance with the procedure established by laws of Turkmenistan;
3) Dissemination of information without statement of its source except for cases established by laws of Turkmenistan;
4) Production and distribution of mass media products without reference data or with intentionally provided false references;
5) Misuse of the freedom of speech, dissemination of false information that impugns the honour and injures the dignity of a citizen or an organisation and impact of journalists on justice activities.

The penalty in such cases is a fine of five times the base amount physical persons and up to 10 times the base amount for officials.

Criminal Defamation of Public Officials

Insult of a public official (Art. 212) during the discharge by him/her of his/her official duties, or in connection with their discharge. The penalty is a fine in the amount of 5 to 10 average monthly wages or corrective labour up to two years.

Note that the Code of Administrative Offences (Art. 69) contains a provision that establishes the offence of “disseminating information about a candidate known to be false” in election and pre-election processes. According to this article, dissemination of information about a candidate known to be false or other acts harming the honour and dignity of the candidate, his/her close relatives and trusted persons incur a fine of up to five times the base amount for physical persons and up to 10 times the base amount for officials.

Contempt of court (Art. 191): (1) Contempt of court in the form of insult of trial participants or failure to comply with the order of the chief judge, if it results in disruption of court hearing, carries a penalty of a fine in the amount of 10 to 20 average monthly wages or corrective labour for up to one year.

(2) The same act in the form of insult of a judge or a public juror related to their justice activities carries a penalty of a fine in the amount of 15 to 30 average monthly wages or corrective labour for up to two years.

Slander against a judge, juror, public prosecutor, investigator or person conducting inquests (Criminal Code Art. 192): (1) Slander against a judge or juror related to their justice activities carries a penalty of a fine in the amount of 20 to 40 average monthly wages or corrective labour for up to two years.

(2) The same act committed against a prosecutor, investigator or a person conducting inquests with regard to preliminary investigation or inquest carries a penalty of a fine in the amount of 15 to 30 average monthly wages or corrective labour for the term up to two years.

(3) Acts specified by Parts 1 or 2 of the present Article in connection with accusation of committing a serious or particularly serious offense carry a penalty of imprisonment for up to five years.

Insult of military personnel (Art. 341): (1) Insult of a military serviceperson by another military serviceperson during or with regard to military duties committed after disciplinary punishment for the same act. The penalty for this act is limitation in military service for up to one year or detention in a military redemption facility for up to one year.

(2) Insult of a superior by a subordinate or insult of a subordinate by a superior during or with regard to military duties committed after disciplinary punishment for the same act is punished by limitation in military service for up to two years or by detention in a military redemption facility for up to two years.

Criminal Defamation of the Head of State

According to Art. 74 of the Constitution of Turkmenistan, the President of Turkmenistan has the right of inviolability. His honour and dignity are protected by law.

Infringement against the President of Turkmenistan (Criminal Code Art. 176): (2) Defamation and slander against the President of Turkmenistan carry a penalty of imprisonment for up to five years.

In addition, since 2003 Turkmenistan has had in effect a regulatory act (desuetude) on “attempts to seed doubts in internal and external policies of the first and permanent President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great,… and for attempts to cause disagreement between the people and the government establishing punishment”. The penalty provided is a life sentence. This act has still not been voided.

Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols

Desecration of state symbols (Article 178): Desecration of the national flag of Turkmenistan, the national emblem of Turkmenistan or the national anthem of Turkmenistan carries a penalty of a fine in the amount of 10 to 30 average monthly wages or corrective labour for up to two years or imprisonment for up to two years.

Criminal Defamation of Foreign Heads of State

No provisions.

Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols

No provisions.

Criminal Defamation of the Deceased

No provisions.

Criminal Blasphemy

The following provisions should be noted.

Code of Administrative Offenses:

Violation of the right of freedom of religion and formation of religious associations (Art. 75): (1) Violation of the right of citizens to practice any religion or no religion, to express and spread religious beliefs, participate in exercise of religious cults, rituals and ceremonies and to form religious associations, as well as insulting religious beliefs. The penalty is a warning or a fine of two to five times the base amount.

Criminal Code:

Article 177. Incitement of social, national or religious enmity

(1) Intentional acts with the objective to incite social, national, ethnic, racial or religious enmity or discord, humiliation of national dignity and propaganda of superiority or inferiority of citizens with regard to their relation to religion, social, ethnic or racial affiliation, are punishable by a fine in the amount of 20 to 40 average monthly wages or imprisonment for the term up to three years.

(2) The same acts committed with involvement of mass media, are punishable by a fine in the amount of 25 to 50 average monthly wages or imprisonment for the term of two to four years.

(3) Acts specified in Parts 1 or 2 of the present Article committed with physical violence or threat of physical violence and committed by an organized group, are punished by imprisonment for the term of three to eight years.

Criminal Statistics

Criminal Law and Media

General notes

As the government has in practice a monopoly in the field of mass media in Turkmenistan , there is no practice of defamation or insults in mass media.

Recent Legal Changes

N/A

Notes and Acknowledgements

Information for Turkmenistan was originally collected by IPI as part of a study commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It is reprinted here with the permission of the OSCE. Last update: March 2017.

The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at info(at)ipi.media.

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