In any individual country, the experience of freedom of religion or belief – or the lack of it – will vary according to many factors: religious affiliation, ethnic identity, socio-economic status. Countries may have constitutions that guarantee freedom of religion, but in practice this freedom may not be upheld, or even systematically undermined. The authorities themselves may be responsible for abuses of religious freedom – or simply turn a blind eye when such abuses occur.
Individuals can experience persecution, discrimination and disadvantage from within their own family and their own community, whether with the approval of the government or its inability, even refusal, to act in defence of freedom.
Click on a country from the list below to read the relevant sections on freedom of religion or belief from these reports:
- The APPG’s Commentary on International Freedom of Religion or Belief
- The FCO Human Rights and Democracy report
and links to the relevant country sections of The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2020 report and the US State Department’s 2019 International Religious Freedom Report. There are also links to Parliamentary references to each country.
The FCO Human Rights and Democracy report has been published each summer, focusing on the previous year – so the 2020 report was published in July 2021. It includes detailed comments on 30 human rights priority countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Libya, Maldives, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
The APPG has highlighted issues of Freedom of Religion or Belief to inform that FCO report by publishing a Commentary on International Freedom of Religion or Belief a few months in advance, most recently in March 2021.
The USCIRF 2020 report recommends that the State Department:
• Redesignate as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs the following nine countries: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan;
• Designate as additional CPCs the following five countries: India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria and Vietnam;
• Maintain on the Special Watch List the following four countries: Cuba, Nicaragua, Sudan and Uzbekistan;
• Include on the SWL the following 11 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Central African Republic (CAR), Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Turkey;
• Redesignate as Entities of Particular Concerns the following five nonstate actors: al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Houthis in Yemen, ISKP in Afghanistan, and the Taliban in Afghanistan; and
• Designate as an additional EPC the following nonstate actor: HTS in Syria.
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