News / Africa

US Commission Names 13 Nations for Violating Religious Freedoms

Cover of the annual report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Cover of the annual report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Meredith Buel

A new report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has named 13 countries for severe violations of religious freedom.  

The commission says its mandate is to investigate what it calls human rights hot spots around the world where freedom of religion is, in the words of Thursday's report, obstructed and trampled.

For egregious violations of religious freedom, the commission cites Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam.

The chairman of the commission is Leonard Leo:

"The annual report documents how, in many countries, religious communities continue to experience severe persecution," said Leonard Leo. "Notably, we have found that in majority-Muslim countries, it is oftentimes those governments that repress the free practice of Islam the most."

The commission is recommending the U.S. State Department officially designate the 13 nations as countries of particular concern, a move that could lead to sanctions against them.

Leo says the panel also recommends other countries, including Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba and Egypt be put on a watch list for close monitoring of serious violations of religious freedom.

"During our missions this year to places like Nigeria and Egypt, we have witnessed how the absence of accountability breeds lawlessness and the breakdown of justice," he said. "This is impunity and it encourages individuals to attack and even kill those who dissent from or fail to embrace other's religious views."

Other countries on the watch list include India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey and Venezuela.

The commission says if the U.S. is concerned about countering extremism, religious freedom must be a critical component of America's diplomacy, national security and economic development.

Leo says the Obama administration has been insufficiently engaged in promoting freedom of religion or belief abroad.

"The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is concerned that U.S. foreign policy on religious freedom is missing the mark," said Leo. "Certainly symbolic of this is the fact that the ambassador at large on international religious freedom has yet to be named well over a year into the administration."

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor says that he does not think the report has any basis in fact.

Vietor says the "president has spoken clearly and unequivocally about his support for religious freedom."

The commission criticizes prior Democratic and Republican administrations for not making religious freedom a top foreign policy priority.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent panel created by the U.S. Congress and funded by the government.  

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs