PRAGUE, March 8, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The State Department said today in its annual report on human rights worldwide that Belarus' record remains very poor and worsened in 2005.
The report says Belarusian authorities continue to undermine democratic institutions and concentrate power through manipulating elections, and by undemocratic laws and regulations.
The report stresses that parliamentary elections and a referendum that removed term limits on the presidency in October 2004 failed to meet international standards.
The report points to arbitrary arrests, government failure to account for the disappearance of opposition politicians, abuse, and torture of prisoners.
The report says the country lacks judicial independence and is denying citizens the right to public demonstrations. It also points to harassment of nongovernmental organizations and churches and the closure of independent newspapers.