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US designates Pakistan, China as countries of particular concern for violation of religious freedom

Published: 12th Dec, 2020


In a latest development, the US has designated Pakistan and China among eight other countries that are of particular concern for violation of religious freedom.


  • United States have a responsibility to publish an annual report on International Religious Freedom.
  • Religious freedom is a universally acknowledged right enshrined in numerous international covenants and declarations such as the
    • United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    • the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    • the Helsinki Accords, and others
  • The United States recognizes religious freedom as an inalienable right and is therefore committed to its preservation and advancement for all.
  • The first step in advancing international religious freedom is to shine a light on its abuse, including the persecution and discrimination of religious groups.

The categories

  • “Country of Particular Concern” is a designation by the Secretary of State of a nation engaged in severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998.
  • “Special Watch List” country is one that is deemed not to meet all of the CPC criteria but engages in or tolerates severe violations of religious freedom.


  • Country of Particular Concern: Pakistan and China along with Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were placed in the list for engaging in or tolerating "systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom".
  • Special Watch List: The State Department placed the Comoros, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated "severe violations of religious freedom".
  • Entities of Particular Concern: The US also designated 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'.

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