Washington, 26 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. State Department says Tajikistan's human rights record remained poor in 1998, with only limited improvements made in a few areas.
The assessment comes in the U.S. State Department's 1998 annual report on world human rights released today.
The report says basic problems of rule of law persist in Tajikistan. Members of the security forces were responsible for killings, beatings and frequent abuse of detainees. These forces were also responsible for threats, extortion, looting and abuse of civilians, it adds. The report says there are often long delays before trials, and the judiciary is subject to political and paramilitary pressure. Prison conditions remain life-threatening.
According to the report, the government severely restricts freedom of speech and the press, and essentially controls the media. However, the report observes that two new opposition newspapers began publishing during the year.
The report also says the authorities strictly control freedom of assembly and association for political organizations. Violence against women is a problem, as is discrimination against the disabled, it adds. The report says that despite a 1996 pledge to establish a human rights ombudsman, the government has still not done so.