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Slovakia: New Government Vows To Respect Human Rights

Washington, 26 February 1999 (RFE/RL) - A U.S. government report says a change of government in Slovakia may bring a change for the better in the sphere of human rights.

The U.S. State Department says the new government coalition took power in November with a vow to demonstrate greater respect for democratic principles and human rights than its predecessor.

In its annual report on human rights practices around the world, the State Department says the new Slovak government corrected some constitutional misdeeds of the previous government, re-started investigations into some serious crimes and created a new office of deputy prime minister for human rights and minorities.

For the first ten months of the year, the U.S. concluded that the former government headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar generally respected most of its citizens human rights, but the U.S. also said the Meciar government demonstrated a lack of attachment to democratic principles and continued to show intolerance for opposition views and a penchant for re-centralization of state authority.

The report noted that Slovakia continued to make progress in the transition from command to free market economy. However, the report added that progress in industrial restructuring was uneven and that restructuring of the financial sector still has not occurred.

Nationwide, the report noted that unemployment stood at 13 percent of the eligible workforce, and the report said a disproportionate number of unemployed are Roma who continued to face discrimination in housing and employment.