Report on Religious Freedom

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom releases grim study on the state of religious freedom around the world.

A recent report by US Commission on International Religious Freedom shows that more than 13 million people worldwide have fled religious conflicts. A majority of the people displaced are from Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Burma and Afghanistan.

The commission recommends that the US government raise the capacity on the number of refugees resettled from 70,000 to 100,000, with additional reserves specifically for refugees in the Middle East. Moreover, the commission states that the Secretary of State should also re-designate Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as “countries of particular concern”, or CPCs, for egregious religious freedom violations and designate Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan and Vietnam as CPCs.

According to the commission, the US government should place Afghanistan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey on watch list and express concern for religious freedom in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, and Sri Lanka.

The report also directs attention to other major concerns related to religious conflicts, such as blasphemy laws. Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia have, for example, were specifically cited as having “blasphemy laws that egregiously violate religious freedom and position the government as an arbiter of truth.”

The commission expresses concern for non-state actors in countries like Central African Republic, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria that diminish religious freedom and calls for new efforts to identify such nations. Other concerns are people jailed for their beliefs in nations like Iran, Uzbekistan, North Korea and Eritrea, for example. In these nations, many religious minorities are under attack especially in Pakistan.

The report recommends that the US government support call to the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court for the investigation of ISIL violations in Iraq and Syria against ethnic and religious minorities, similar to the models used in nations like Sudan and Libya. The annual report assesses the U.S. government’s implementation of International Religious Freedom Act, recommends countries that should be designated as CPCs for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, documents country conditions in around 30 countries, reports on significant trends and recommends U.S. policies.

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