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Pak on US 'special watch' list for severe violations of religious freedom

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has been advocating for designating Pakistan as a CPC since 2002

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

The announcement came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to re-designate about 10 countries as 'Countries of Particular Concern. (Photo: Reuters)
The announcement came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to re-designate about 10 countries as ‘Countries of Particular Concern. (Photo: Reuters)

The US has placed on a special watch list for “severe violations” of religious freedom, the State Department said.

The announcement came as Secretary of State decided to re-designate about 10 countries as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’.

“The secretary also placed on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said. No other explanation on was available immediately.

“Too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief,” Nauert said in a statement.

“Today, a number of governments infringe upon individuals’ ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion or belief, worship in accordance with their religion or beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief,” she said.

In accordance with the Act of 1998, she said the secretary of state annually designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’.

“Today, the Department of State announces that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) on December 22, 2017,” she said.

Noting that the protection of is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity, Nauert said these designations are aimed at improving the respect for in these countries.

“We recognise that several designated countries are working to improve their respect for religious freedom; we welcome these initiatives and look forward to continued dialogue,” Nauert said.

The US remains committed to working with governments, civil society organisations, and religious leaders to advance around the world, she added.

In November, Congressmen Randy Hultgren and James P McGovern, Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, in a letter to Tillerson had urged him to designate as CPC alleging it has engaged in systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of

The United States Commission on has been advocating for designating as a CPC since 2002.

It has argued that the government of continues “to perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations. Religiously discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, such as the country’s blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, continue to result in prosecutions and imprisonments.”

In a report last year, the Pew Research Center determined that over an eight-year period is one of a small group of countries that “stand out as having the most restrictions on religion … when both government restrictions and religious hostilities are taken into account.”

First Published: Fri, January 05 2018. 09:17 IST
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