In an article published recently in The Hill, Lena Abboud, Senior Manager for Research and Policy with RFI’s Middle East Action Team, argues:
Religious freedom is regressing globally, and the United States has an opportunity to be in solidarity with the people most egregiously affected. But whether this solidarity goes beyond rhetoric depends on actions the United States takes against perpetrators and its engagement with governments and communities in countries where this freedom is most at risk.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) annual report (released April 25) recommended that “the Secretary of State designate 15 countries as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ (CPC) and include 12 countries on the Special Watch List (SWL).” While USCIRF makes recommendations, the Department of State has delegated authority to make final CPC and SWL determinations. These determinations are important, but they are intended to entail far more than just formal declarations. Abboud writes:
[T]he United States has effectively shelved any strategic engagement to advance religious freedom with many CPC-designated countries by applying waivers or ‘double-hatting’ existing sanctions in response to a designation.
A CPC or SWL designation, after all, is neither a symbolic gesture nor a final condemnation of a country. Rather, it is to be the basis for deliberate and effective engagement to safeguard religious freedom in countries where this right is most at risk.
Read the full article: “U.S. support of global religious freedom must go beyond rhetoric.”