Press Release Turkmenistan

New Report Exposes the Horrors of Turkmenistan’s Opaque Prison System

[October 19, Linden, VA] – Supported by satellite imagery and rare witness accounts, a new report by Crude Accountability exposes the disturbing expansion and cruelty within the notoriously opaque Turkmen prison system.

Turkmenistan’s Prison System Report Cover

The new report, Turkmenistan’s Prison System: Satellite Images Show What the Turkmen Government Will Not, focuses on two prison sites, Akdash and Ovadan Depe. Both sites are reported to detain individuals on politically motivated charges, including those who are on the list of enforced disappearances, among other inmates. Both sites have apparently undergone significant development in recent years.

Partnering with data analysts at Omanos Analytics, a Glasgow-based space technology start-up, Crude Accountability analyzes satellite data from those sites and rare eyewitness testimonies that highlight the inhumane treatment that occurs behind its walls. The report then evaluates the implications of these findings within the context of human rights violations in Turkmenistan.

Satellite images prove that the buildings are being expanded, increasing capacity. Prison conditions continue to be cruel and inhumane, including reported cases of torture, beatings, inadequate hygiene and nutrition, and denial of medical treatment, all of which comprise serious violations of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners & Nelson Mandela Rules.

Turkmenistan’s failure to comply with its international commitments – whether to the United Nations, the OSCE, or international conventions – is obvious when looking at the prison system through its physical construction and the treatment of its prisoners,” says Kate Watters, Crude Accountability Executive Director, one of the authors of the report.

According to Watters, this gross human rights violation has impacts beyond Turkmenistan. “Turkmenistan’s continued impunity creates a space in which other authoritarian governments can expand their authoritarian practices. As we witness the human rights violations perpetrated throughout Eurasia, we see the brutal techniques of the Turkmen regime used in other places,” says Watters.

Although this report marks a significant step towards transparency and accountability, many questions remain unanswered about the current state of Ovadan Depe and Akdash. Answering them requires further transparency from the Turkmen government, including opening its prisons to international monitors, and the commitment of the international community to hold Turkmenistan’s government to account for these gross violations of human rights.

View and download the report HERE.


Crude Accountability is an environmental and human rights non-profit organization that works with communities in the Caspian and Black Sea regions, which struggle against threats to local natural resources and negative health impacts. Crude Accountability works on the local, national, regional, and international levels in partnership with communities and organizations committed to a just and environmentally sustainable world. Based in Northern Virginia, Crude Accountability also collaborates with other environmental organizations in the United States.

For more information, please contact:

Kate Watters, Executive Director +1-571-332-5895

Featured image: Adobe Stock