Washington, DC – U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chair Gayle Manchin and Vice Chair Tony Perkins met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this month to discuss findings and recommendations from USCIRF’s 2020 Annual Report.
“We appreciate Secretary Pompeo’s efforts to elevate international religious freedom as a foreign policy priority, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration to advance additional policy measures in countries where the most egregious violations exist,” USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin stated. “While we welcome these efforts, we urge the Administration to discontinue the repeated imposition of preexisting sanctions or waivers for nations designated as ‘countries of particular concern,’ and instead urge that the Secretary of State take a unique action for each country to provide accountability for abuses.”
In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the State Department designate 14 governments as “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations. These include nine that the State Department designated as CPCs in December 2019—Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—as well as five others that USCIRF recommends: India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.
“We recognize the substantial steps made by the Executive Branch to pursue this fundamental human right abroad, especially the recent Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom,” USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins added. “The State Department has also acknowledged the significance of international religious freedom as a key national security concern, which has resulted in increased initiatives and resources to promote religious freedom globally.”