BISHKEK/PRAGUE. The United States says human rights continue to remain poor in the five Central Asian nations, despite inklings of progress.
The State Department's assessment came in its annual survey of human rights and democracy around the world.
Unveiling the report, Lorne Craner, the assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights, said U.S. funding for human rights and democracy projects in Central Asia has increased between 200 and 400 percent since 2001, when the region became key to the U.S. war on terror.
But he acknowledged that America's new allies were slow to change: "Decades of Soviet-style political culture will not be changed overnight. This edition of the human rights report states that the human rights observance remains poor in all five countries [of Central Asia]."
The report singled out Turkmenistan for having an "extremely poor" human rights record that only got worst after an assassination attempt last November on President Saparmurat Niyazov last November led to further serious violations of due process, widespread arrests and torture.
Kyrgyzstan was chided for periodically refusing to print opposition publications, and for slapping journalists with libel suits. But at the same time, it was praised for opening a media support center and taking steps against human trafficking.