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International Religious Freedom 2019 report
What to study?
For prelims and mains: Key findings, concerns and what needs to be done?
Context: United States Commission has released its International Religious Freedom 2019 report.
US Commission on International Religious Freedom is a bipartisan, independent federal government commission, created by International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Significance of the report:
In its Annual Report, USCIRF unflinchingly describes threats to religious freedom around the world and recommends to the State Department countries for designation as “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations.”
USCIRF also recommends to the State Department that non-state actors cited for similarly severe violations be designated as “entities of particular concern” (EPCs).
This year, USCIRF has recommended 16 countries for CPC designation and five entities for EPC designation.
Also, USCIRF placed 12 countries on its Tier 2 list, meaning the violations meet one or two, but not all three, of the elements of the systematic, ongoing, egregious test for CPC status.
The 16 countries USCIRF recommended for CPC designation include 10 that the State Department so designated in November 2018 – Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan – as well as six others that the State Department has not designated – Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria, Russia, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
The 12 countries on USCIRF’s Tier 2 list are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey.
The five entities recommended for EPC designation include the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Taliban in Afghanistan, al-Shabab in Somalia, and new to the list this year, the Houthis in Yemen and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Syria.
India- specific Key findings:
- India saw an “overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2018”.
- India continues to remain a Tier II country. It is in same list since 2009. Tier II countries are those in which violations engaged in or tolerated by government are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of systematic, ongoing, and egregious (horrible)’.
- India is facing declining religious freedom, apart from increased securitisation and politicisation of religion.
- It is increasingly becoming difficult to separate religion and politics. It is a tactic which is sometimes intended by those who seek to discriminate against certain religious communities.
- Over the last decade Minorities conditions have deteriorated in country. The reason is attributed to extremist groups, anti-conversion laws, cow-protection groups, mob lynching, concerns that millions from Assam will be incorrectly left out of NRC (National Register of Citizen) and a denying international NGOs registration.
Sources: The Hindu.