Thursday, November 18, 2010
The United States Department of State has released its annual report for 2010 on International Religious Freedom. The full report can be found here. The report is issued each year pursuant to the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. The Act created a government commission, the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom, to monitor reglious freedom worldwide and make recommendations to expose, counter and correct abuses of religious freedom.
The 2010 Report covers the period April 2009 to March 2010. Each year, the Commission designates certain countries as "Countries of Particular Concern" or CPCs for severe violations of religious freedom. The Commission also places a second group of countries on a Watch List for violations of religious freedom that require further monitoring, as well as a third group that also deserves further attention.
In 2010, the Commission recommends that the following 13 countries be designated as CPC: Burma, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Five of these countries - Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam - are new additions to the list.
Watch List countries are Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela.
Designating countries as CPC provides the U.S. Secretary of State with a range of policy options that may be pursued to address issues of religious freedom. The Watch List is intended to provide warning of negative trends and encourage preemptive discussions and actions before the situation becomes more serious.