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State Department releases list of religious freedom abusers

by Evan Wilt
Posted 1/04/18, 12:58 pm

WASHINGTON—The State Department announced Thursday it has re-designated 10 countries of practical concern (CPC) and placed Pakistan on a special watch list for religious freedom abuses. Each year, the State Department designates CPCs under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. The agency recognized 10 CPCs for 2017, maintaining the status quo for punishing countries that violate global religious freedom standards. Countries on the list include Burma (also known as Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—the same countries listed the previous year. The only change involved adding Pakistan to a special watch list “for severe violations of religious freedom.” Punishment for CPCs falls to the secretary of state’s discretion but typically involves economic sanctions. In August, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the addition of the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam to the list of CPCs, but the State Department decided to ignore the recommendation to avoid damaging diplomatic relations with those countries. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, praised the State Department but noted the list seemed short. “I am troubled that Vietnam was again not designated this year,” he said in a statement. “The Vietnamese people continue to have their religious freedom and other human rights violated. The U.S. should never shrink from calling out countries for such abuses.”

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Evan Wilt

Evan is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD reporter.

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