USCIRF on Release of International Religious Freedom Report and Nomination of Ambassador-at-Large

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2014 | USCIRF

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of State yesterday released its 2013 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom and made designations of “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) for particularly severe violations of religious freedom.  The White House also announced their nominee for the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein.

“USCIRF welcomes the release of the State Department’s annual international religious freedom report and the designations of CPCs,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett. “We commend the State Department for designating CPCs at the same time it issues the annual report on international religious freedom.  Making yearly CPC designations in conjunction with the issuance of the annual International Religious Freedom report  will help ensure that offending governments understand that the United States is deeply concerned about protecting this fundamental human right and that they may face consequences for engaging in religious persecution.” 

“USCIRF also welcomes the expansion of the CPC list to include Turkmenistan, a country USCIRF has recommended for designation since 2004,” said Lantos Swett.  “However, there were disappointing omissions on the CPC list, such as Pakistan.  Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the U.S. government as CPCs.  The State Department’s own report documents numerous violations in Pakistan, and yesterday’s mob attack on an Ahmadi home which resulted in three deaths demonstrates that Pakistan clearly meets the CPC threshold.”

The 2014 USCIRF Annual Report recommended the re-designation of eight countries as CPCs – Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.  USCIRF also called for the designation of eight additional countries that the Commission concluded met the CPC threshold. Along with Turkmenistan, these countries are:  Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Vietnam.

Finally, USCIRF applauds the nomination of a new Ambassador for Religious Freedom. “With the challenges to religious freedom increasing worldwide, we warmly welcome the nomination of Rabbi David Saperstein as the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom,” said Lantos Swett. “He is knowledgeable and passionate about these issues, and served as USCIRF’s first Chair after the Commission was established.  We look forward to working closely with Rabbi Saperstein and deepening our cooperation with the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.”

To interview a USCIRF Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@uscirf.gov or 202-786-0613.