Thursday, April 22, 2021

USCIRF Issues Annual Report On International Religious Freedom

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom yesterday announced the release of its 2021 Annual Report (full text).  The 108-page Report focuses on religious freedom violations in 26 countries. Summarizing it findings, the Report said in part:

For 2021, based on religious freedom conditions in 2020, USCIRF recommends that the State Department:

• Redesignate as CPCs [Countries of Particular Concern] the following ten countries: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan;

• Designate as additional CPCs the following four countries: India, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam; 

• Maintain on the SWL [Special Watch List] the following two countries: Cuba and Nicaragua;

• Include on the SWL the following 10 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan; and

• Redesignate as EPCs [Entities of Particular Concern] the following seven nonstate actors: al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), and the Taliban.

The Report also makes numerous policy recommendations to the U.S. government, including the prompt nomination of the ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom (IRF), special adviser for IRF on the National Security Council staff, special coordinator for Tibetan issues, and special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. It also recommends changes in U.S. handling of refugees and asylum seekers.