Washington, March 7 (RFE/RL) - Respect for human rights
varied in the former Soviet Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, the annual U.S.
State Department report on human rights says.
The report to the U.S. Congress was made public Wednesday. It
surveys human rights practices around the world.
It suggests that Kazakhstan "generally respected the rights of its
citizens" in 1995 and that Kyrgyzstan had established the basis for
participatory democracy. The report adds that despite serious
problems, Tajikistan's human rights record had improved slightly over
the past year and that Turkmenistan had made "little progress" in
moving toward democracy, while Uzbekistan had made "some progress" in
Praising Kazakhstan for "generally" respecting human rights and
having "in place" important elements of a participatory democracy,
the State Department says that "the establishment of democratic
institutions suffered a number of setbacks" there in 1995.
It says that the new constitution and existing legal system in
Kazakhstan does not fully safeguard human rights and that the
judiciary remains under the control of the president. Moreover, the
report suggests that corruption remains widespread and the freedoms
of speech and the press and of assembly are subject to continuing
The report says that the basis for participatory democracy has been
established in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. It concludes
that the government generally respected the human rights of its
citizens but suggested that there were problems in some areas,
including freedom of the press and of public assembly. The annual
report also criticizes Kyrgyzstan for conditions in its prison system
and ethnic discrimination.
Although finding that Tajikistan's human rights record did improve slightly last year, the State Department concludes that serious problems remain, including illegal actions by the security forces, poor conditions in prisons, and restrictions on
freedom of speech and the media. The report also criticizes the external opposition in Tajikistan for illegal killings and forcibly preventing the repatriation of Tajik refugees from northern Afghanistan.
Turkmenistan, the report says, "made little progress" in moving from
a Soviet-era authoritarian style of government to a democratic
system. It says that the government continued to operate under Soviet-era institutions which have been renamed but not reformed. The report was especially critical of the Democratic Party that dominates all political life and does not permit basic freedoms for the population. It also criticized the security services, and
discrimination against ethnic minorities and women.
The report found that Uzbekistan has "made some progress in the
transition from its authoritarian legacy towards democracy," but
suggested there is great room for improvement. The government
continues to repress opposition groups, abuses the electoral system,
and violates a variety of basic human rights. At the same time, the
State Department suggests that there was some scope for optimism
because the Uzbek president had acknowledged publicly that not enough
progress has been made in Uzbekistan with regard to human rights.