Monday, May 02, 2016

USCIRF Issues 2016 Annual Report On Religious Freedom Abuses Around the World

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom today released its 2016 Annual Report (full text). The Report recommends that the Secretary of State re-designate 9 countries as "countries of particular concern," i.e. countries that engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It also recommends adding 8 other countries as CPC's: Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. (In fact on April 14, the State Department did add Tajikistan. See prior posting.)

USCIRF designated 10 countries as Tier 2 nations that have serious religious freedom issues, but which do not rise to the level of CPC's: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey.

In making its recommendations, USCIRF said in part:
Non-state actors, such as transnational or local organizations, are some of the most egregious violators of religious freedom in today’s world. In some places, such as the Central African Republic and areas of Iraq and Syria, governments are either non-existent or incapable of addressing violations committed by non-state actors. USCIRF has concluded that the CPC classification should be expanded to allow for the designation of countries such as these, where particularly severe violations of religious freedom are occurring but a government does not exist or does not control its territory. Accordingly, USCIRF’s CPC recommendations reflect that approach.