SUDAN: USCIRF Urges Secretary of State to Maintain Sanctions
“Sudan has not shown sufficient progress on allowing greater religious freedom”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a May 30 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on him to “take steps to address severe violations of religious freedom and other human rights” in Sudan. In the letter below, USCIRF called on Secretary Tillerson to maintain existing sanctions on the Sudanese government due to deteriorating religious freedom conditions.
Current U.S. sanctions on Sudan will be lifted by July 12, 2017 if the Secretary of State determines that the Sudanese government "has sustained the positive actions" in lessening military hostilities, increasing access to humanitarian assistance, and cooperating with the United States on regional conflicts and counterterrorism.
USCIRF is concerned that one important factor missing in this determination is the status of religious freedom in Sudan.
USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark stated that “USCIRF believes that these sanctions should remain in place. Sudan has not shown sufficient progress on allowing greater religious freedom. Religious leaders continue to be arrested and convicted on spurious charges; churches have been demolished; and a range of laws against apostasy, blasphemy, and undefined ‘offences of honor’ remain in force.” Daniel Mark was elected as USCIRF’s Chairman on June 13, 2017.
The U.S. government imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997 and 2006, in part, due to the Sudanese government’s gross human rights violations, including “the denial of religious freedom,” which remain in place today. An Executive Order in January by then President Barack Obama directed the sanctions be lifted if the Secretary of State determines that the Sudanese government “has sustained the positive actions” on the topics listed above. This determination does not require an evaluation of progress, or lack thereof, on human rights or religious freedom.
Chairman Mark added, “The United States certainly should recognize positive developments on a range of issues, but Sudan has not ‘sustained positive actions’ with regard to religious freedom, and the sanctions should stay in place.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world. USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership of both political parties. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or John D. Lawrence, Director of Communications (JLawrence@USCIRF.gov/+1-202-786-0611).