Washington, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomed today the release of the State Department’s 2019 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.
“USCIRF appreciates the release of this comprehensive report and the State Department’s continued commitment to improving religious freedom conditions abroad,” USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins stated. “We were encouraged that, in their remarks, Secretary Michael R. Pompeo and Ambassador Samuel Brownback highlighted progress in 2019 in both Sudan and Uzbekistan, which USCIRF also recognized in our own Annual Report. And we agree with their concerns about the deterioration of religious freedom conditions in Nigeria, a country USCIRF has recommended be designated as a ‘country of particular concern,’ or CPC, for 11 consecutive years. USCIRF also saw a sharp downturn in religious freedom conditions in India during 2019, and we urge the State Department to designate India as a CPC for engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations.”
“We thank the Administration for its enduring commitment to international religious freedom, including the Executive Order issued last week to advance this initiative,” USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin stated. “We urge the State Department to announce in a timely manner its designations of CPCs, and to take meaningful actions to encourage change in those countries, rather than imposing pre-existing sanctions or issuing waivers.”
USCIRF’s 2020 Annual Report, released earlier this year on April 29, 2020, recommended that the State Department designate 14 countries as CPCs and place 15 countries on its Special Watch List (SWL). These 29 countries are the world’s worst offenders against freedom of religion or belief.