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Policy Briefs and Focuses

This report provides an assessment of religious freedom conditions in Uzbekistan, where USCIRF commissioners and staff traveled twice over the course of 2019. Although Uzbekistan has taken some important initial steps to allow for greater religious freedom, leading the U.S. Department of State to remove Uzbekistan from the list of designated Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) and place it on its new Special Watch List, significant concerns remain. The report examines these ongoing issues, such as the continued imprisonment of religious prisoners, restrictions on Muslim communities, and a legal structure that severely impedes the religious activities of both majority and minority religious communities throughout the country. 

Saudi Arabia has taken some limited steps toward greater religious freedom in 2019 while continuing to restrict it in other ways. On a positive note, Saudi Arabia eased religious restrictions on women’s mobility in 2019 and allowed Saudi women for the first time to report births, marriages, and divorces. It also began issuing tourist visas and relaxed religious restrictions on dress for women visitors to the Kingdom. Yet at the same time, the government has conducted mass executions of Shi’a Muslims. It continued to detain several religious prisoners of conscience and severely mistreat activists who peacefully protested religious guardianship laws, and in official communications it described feminism as a form of radical extremism.

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