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USCIRF: “Religious minorities will be especially vulnerable in 2024”

The US International Commission on Religious Freedom warns in its annual report that several governments have engaged in the repression of religious minorities.

FUENTES Protestante Digital AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus WASHINGTON D.C. 31 DE MAYO DE 2024 19:20 h
A street in Jaipur, India. USCIRF calls on the Administration to consider India as a country of particular concern.

The situation of religious minorities in many parts of the world continues to worsen, warns the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

The institution has published its latest report on the state of religious freedom worldwide, based on data collected mainly in 2023.

USCIRF regrets that “in addition to perpetrating violations of freedom within their own countries, several governments engaged in repression to silence religious minorities and their defenders abroad”.

The forms of violence and pressure, say the institution, vary from country to country, but “blasphemy laws remain one of the most important challenges to religious freedom, as they punish acts or expressions considered offensive to religious feelings, figures or symbols with the death penalty, hard labour, imprisonment or fines”.

“Given the global trend of targeting and scapegoating religious minorities during many of the 2023 elections, the same religious minorities are especially vulnerable communities in 2024”, point out the authors.


The USCIRF map of persecution

There are several differences between USCIRF's map of religious persecution and that of non-governmental organisations, such as Open Doors.

USCIRF divides countries into those it considers to be of "Particular Concern" (CPC), where the most extreme violations of religious freedom are recorded, and those it includes on a "Special Watch List" (SWL).

Its map is not binding, as the State Department has the final say in officially placing a country in one of the categories.

USCIRF recommends to include or maintain Azerbaijan, Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan on the first list.

While the State Department has already included these countries in this category, USCIRF laments that the Administration does not include five other countries that it also recommends: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Syria and Vietnam.

The SWL includes Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

The State Department already included Azerbaijan, Algeria, Central African Republic, Comoros and Vietnam in this category in 2023.


Some recommendations

USCIRF criticises the government for imposing sanctions on only eight of the 12 countries listed as "CPCs", excluding Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

In the report, USCIRF also makes recommendations to the US administration, such as expanding the use of the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the US government to issue visa bans and asset freezes against foreign persons involved in “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including violations of freedom of religion or belief”.

It also calls on the government to coordinate with other countries that have such sanction codes.


[title]One more year[/title]


[text]At Evangelical Focus, we have a sustainability challenge ahead. We invite you to join those across Europe and beyond who are committed with our mission. Together, we will ensure the continuity of Evangelical Focus and Protestante Digital (Spanish) in 2024.

Learn all about our #OneMoreYearEF campaign here (English).





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