28 April 2011 – Washington, D.C.
In its 2011 Annual Report, released 28 April 2011, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has for the first time recommended to the Secretary of State that Egypt be designated a “county of particular concern” (CPC). Other nations named are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
In the description of the USCIRF Chair Leonard Leo, “CPCs are nations whose conduct marks them as the world’s worst religious freedom violators and human rights abusers, In the case of Egypt, instances of severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government have increased dramatically since the release of last year’s report, with violence, including murder, escalating against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities. Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice. Consequently, USCIRF recommends CPC designation for Egypt.”
The 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) requires that the United States designate annually as CPCs countries whose governments have engaged in or tolerated systematic and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief. USCIRF’s Annual Report assesses conditions in these and other nations and provides policy prescriptions tailored to each CPC.
USCIRF also announced that the following countries are on its 2011 Watch List: Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela. While not rising to the statutory level set forth in IRFA requiring CPC designation, Watch List countries require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by their governments.