USCIRF Urges State Department to Make Designations for Countries Violating Religious Freedom
New Factsheet from Congressional Commission Outlines Rising Persecution for State Department
11/09/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has published a factsheet reiterating its recommendations to the U.S. Department of State regarding countries to be designated as violators of religious freedom. The State Department is expected to make its designations this month, listing certain countries as either Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) for religious freedom or placing them on the department’s Special Watch List (SWL) for religious freedom violators.
USCIRF submits its recommendations for the two categories of designations every year in its annual report, documenting its research and evidence for its findings. In April, USCIRF released its 2021 report, highlighting the countries the commission found were deserving of designations based on their actions in the year 2020.
In this report, USCIRF recommended four countries for CPCs that the State Department had not previously designated as such, as well as 10 countries that the State Department did not include on the SWL.
For CPCs, USCIRF named Vietnam, Syria, Russia, and India as four countries that are deserving of the State Department designation. India is a country that is fairly new to the list, though has been highlighted in the past few years for its increasing persecution of Christians and Muslims. One example of this persecution is the passage of anti-conversion laws throughout the country, causing increased persecution against Christians as documented in an ICC report cited by USCIRF.
USCIRF also recommended that Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan all be added to the State Department’s SWL. Over the past year, ICC has covered the deteriorating religious freedom conditions in these countries, such as with church closures and blasphemy cases in Algeria, destruction of Christian heritage sites by Azerbaijan, violations foreign and domestic by Turkey, and others.
Matias Perttula, ICC’s Director of Advocacy, welcomed the new USCIRF factsheet. “ICC reiterates the recommendations put forth by USCIRF,” said Perttula. “We urge State Department officials to designate the four new CPC countries and add the 10 new SWL countries as advised by USCIRF. We will continue to work with USCIRF analysts to ensure that the United States identifies the world’s top persecuting countries. We also look forward to working with the State Department to ensure these countries are held responsible for their violations to help persecuted communities around the world.”