When the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2017 Annual Report April 26 on the state of religious freedom in selected countries, USCIRF Chair Thomas Reese, S.J., said the commission concluded that “the state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations.”
This report calls on Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson to designate Russia as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) based in part on its continued violation of the right of freedom of religion and belief through its application of its “anti-extremism” law. The Commission found Russia has repeatedly used this law to curtail religious freedoms for various faiths, most recently Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ right to religious freedom is being eliminated through a flawed application of this law,” Reese said. “The recent Russian Supreme Court ruling bans the legal existence of the group throughout Russia.”
The International Religious Freedom Act requires the U.S. Government to designate as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, any country whose government engages in or tolerates particularly severe religious freedom violations that are systematic, ongoing, and egregious.