US re-designates Pakistan, China as countries curbing religious freedom

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Dec 08, 2020, 05:43 PM(IST)

Mike Pompeo Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The US State Department issued a list of countries on Monday including Pakistan and China as countries engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that his country has designated Pakistan and China as countries of particular concern for violation of religious freedom.

The United States releases a list of countries with a dubious record on religious freedoms every year.

The US State Department issued a list of countries on Monday including Pakistan and China along with Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan were placed in the list for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.

Also read: Pakistan-China intelligence-sharing deal threatens US peace efforts in Afghanistan

The State Department placed the Comoros, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Russia on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.

Pompeo said "Religious freedom is an unalienable right and the bedrock upon which free societies are built and flourish. Today, the United States -- a nation founded by those fleeing religious persecution, as the recent Commission on Unalienable Rights report noted -- once again took action to defend those who simply want to exercise this essential freedom.''

The US also designated al-Shabaab, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as 'Entities of Particular Concern'.

Pompeo said the US did not renew the prior 'Entity of Particular Concern' designations for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS-Khorasan due to the total loss of territory formerly controlled by these terrorist organisations.

"While these two groups no longer meet the statutory criteria for designation, we will not rest until we have fully eliminated the threat of religious freedom abuses by any violent extremist and terrorist groups," he said.

Pompeo said Sudan and Uzbekistan have been removed from the Special Watch List based on significant, concrete progress undertaken by their respective governments over the past year.

"The courageous reforms of their laws and practices stand as models for other nations to follow," he said.

However, our work is far from complete. Pompeo said, adding that the US will continue to work tirelessly to end religiously motivated abuses and persecution around the world and to help ensure that each person, everywhere, at all times, has the right to live according to the dictates of conscience.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) praised the State Department's move to put 10 nations in the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs), including Nigeria for the first time, and four countries on the SWL for severe violations, pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).

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