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US: Human Rights Improved in Parts of Africa, Still Bad in Zimbabwe, Sudan

The U.S. State Department says several countries in sub-Saharan Africa made progress on human rights in 2005.

The department's annual human rights report says the situation "improved markedly" in Africa's Great Lakes region, where it says governments made significant progress in demobilizing thousands of child soldiers.

It says Liberia made a "dramatic step" toward democracy with elections that put President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in power. And it notes that Uganda re-introduced multi-party politics after decades of one-party rule.

The report renews U.S. criticism of Zimbabwe, where it says the government maintained a "steady assault" on human dignity and basic freedoms.

It also says that genocide continued last year in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region. The report says torture and violence against women were "systematic," and that rape was used as a tool of war.

The report says the political crisis in Ivory Coast led to further abuses there including rape, torture, and extra-judicial killings by government and rebel forces.

The complete report is available on the State Department's website at