Written by Don Byrd

I am a little late to this but a few weeks ago the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its annual report on the state of religious freedom around the world. The USCIRF report identifies countries of concern with regard to religious freedom policies and conditions, dividing them into 1) countries recommended for State Department designation as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), a category reserved for nations in which residents face the most egregious religious freedom violations; 2) Tier 2 countries, and 3) other countries and regions being closely monitored.

This year, the report names Russia as a new country recommended for CPC designation. A press release explains:

This year’s report calls on the Secretary of State to designate Russia as a CPC partly due to its continued use of its “anti-extremism” law as a tool to repeatedly curtail religious freedoms for various faiths, most recently the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  “The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ right to religious freedom is being eliminated through a flawed application of this law,” commented USCIRF’s Chair, Thomas Reese, S.J.  “The recent Russian Supreme Court ruling bans the legal existence of the group throughout Russia.”

Other countries which the USCIRF recommends remain on the State Dept.’s CPC list are: China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Countries the USCIRF again recommends for inclusion as CPCs are: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey.

“Overall,” chair Thomas Reese warns that “The Commission has concluded that the state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations.”

You can view the entire report here