The U.S secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced the inclusion of Pakistan and China to the countries that are of particular concern for violation of religious freedom. Other nations like Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were also added to this list for engaging in “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom” said Pompeo.
"Religious freedom is an inalienable right and the bedrock upon which free societies are built and flourish. Today, the United States -- a nation founded by those fleeing religious persecution, as the recent Commission on Unalienable Rights report noted -- once again took action to defend those who simply want to exercise this essential freedom," Pompeo said.
The US also listed terrorist organisations like al-Shabaab, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Taliban as 'Entities of Particular Concern'. Pompeo said the US did not renew the prior 'Entity of Particular Concern' designations for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS-Khorasan due to the total loss of territory formerly controlled by these terrorist organisations. Pompeo has informed that Sudan and Uzbekistan were removed from the list since both these nations gained tremendous progress in curbing extremism in their respective nations.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) praised the State Department's move to put 10 nations in the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs). "We are gratified that the State Department has named 10 countries as CPCs. We particularly welcome Nigeria's designation for the first time as a CPC for tolerating egregious violations of religious freedom, which USCIRF had been recommending since 2009. Nigeria is the first secular democracy that has been named a CPC, which demonstrates that we must be vigilant that all forms of governments respect religious freedom," said USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin.
USCIRF’s request to add India, Russia, Vietnam and Syria to the list of CPCs was turned down by the state department.