May 12, 2021
USCIRF Welcomes the Release of State Department’s 2020 International Religious Freedom Report
“The International Religious Freedom Report reflects the Administration’s commitment and extensive work to protect the freedom of religion or belief,” said USCIRF Chair Anurima Bhargava. “This report, which documents religious freedom conditions in every nation abroad, is a valuable tool to hold countries accountable for persecution and violence, as well as to support needed change. We deeply appreciate the State Department team who worked on this report and the significant effort and investment it clearly required.”
Pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), the State Department is required to prepare this annual report on religious freedom conditions. IRFA further mandates that within 180 days from the release of the report, the State Department announce the countries that will be designated as countries of particular concern (CPC) or placed on its Special Watch List (SWL), and the nonstate actors that will be designated as entities of concern (EPC).
“We look forward to the timely designations of the world’s worst violators later this year,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins. “As also required by IRFA, strong policy responses should accompany these designations. We encourage the State Department to review U.S. policy towards the countries currently designated as CPCs for which waivers on taking any action based on those designations are in place, as these waivers provide little or no incentive for governments to reduce or halt egregious religious freedom violations.”
The State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report covers nearly 200 countries, 26 of which are analyzed in USCIRF’s 2021 Annual Report on the world’s worst offenders against freedom of religion or belief. In that report, USCIRF recommended that in 2021, the State Department designate 14 countries as CPCs, place 12 countries on its SWL, and designate 7 violent non-state groups as EPCs.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov.