The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report cites eight nations as "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPCs) due to their "particularly severe violations of religious freedom."
However, there are at least eight more countries which should also be on that list, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, who urged Secretary of State John Kerry to designate them as CPCs in its 15th annual report, says Religion News Service. The list has not been updated since 2006.
The USCIRF report stated that Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and Tajikistan should be recognized as countries with severe violations of religious freedom.
Here are the current countries on the CPC list:
Myanmar has been designated as a CPC since 1999, and was redesignated as one in 2011. An ongoing embargo is in effect, connected with this designation.
The constitution and other legal mechanisms officially restrict religious freedom in the country. The government has actively promoted Theravada Buddhism to the detriment of other faiths.
The Rohingya Muslim minority community continues to suffer from ethnic and religious violence.
China was designated a CPC in 1999 and redesignated in 2011. The government's state control over religion has led to restrictions on activities and personal freedom when such activities are perceived as threatening to the Chinese Communist Party.
Eritrea was designated as a CPC in 2004, and redesignated in 2011. Assistance restrictions are in place. There are four officially religious groups: the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea, which are subject to government influence. Members of unregistered religious groups are subject to government detention.
Iran has been listed as a CPC since 1999, and was redesignated as one in 2011. Blasphemy is a crime in Iran, and reports of government harassment, discrimination, and intimidation against individuals for their religious beliefs persist.
Christian pastor Saeed Abedini has reportedly been abused during his imprisonment, despite political calls for his release.
The Baha'i faith is illegal in Iran, and Baha'is face especially severe persecution in comparison to other minority groups.
North Korea was listed as a CPC in 2001, and redesignated in 2011. Though religious freedom is provided for in the constitution and legal system, in practice the government has severely restricted religious activity except for groups explicitly recognized by the state.
Saudi Arabia was designated as a CPC in 2004. In 2011, in conjunction with its redesignation, the Secretary of State issued a waiver of sanctions against the country. The constitution neither recognizes nor protects religious freedom, and all religions except for the official religion of Sunni Islam are highly restricted. The public practice of any religion except for Islam is prohibited.
Sudan was first designated as a CPC in 1999, and was redesignated in 2011. It is ineligible for U.S. aid. Sudan's Interim National Constitution restricted religious freedoms, a policy generally enforced by government officials. Laws against defaming Islam and preventing blasphemy are enforced. Minority religious groups have reported instances of harassment by authorities.
First designated as a CPC in 2006, Uzbekistan was redesignated as one in 2011. Sanctions were issued in order to "further the purposes of the act." Though the constitution provides for religious freedom, other laws restrict it and these are generally enforced by the government. Proselytizing is prohibited and can be punished with jail time. The government has been reported as raiding religious gatherings of unregistered faiths, and confiscating and destroying religious texts.