In Press Releases

By The US Commission on International Religious Freedom
(Note: Egypt section starts on page 54 of the report)

Washington, D.C. – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released its 2024 Annual Report, which documents developments during 2023. USCIRF’s 2024 Annual Report provides recommendations to enhance the U.S. government’s promotion of freedom of religion or belief abroad. This year’s report commemorates the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). This landmark law made promoting the guaranteed right to freedom of religion or belief a priority in U.S. foreign policy.

Twenty-five years after IRFA’s passage, many individuals and communities around the world still cannot freely practice their religion or belief. USCIRF is disheartened by the deteriorating conditions in many countries as highlighted in the Annual Report. It is vital that the President, Secretary of State, and Congress implement the recommendations in this year’s report,” USCIRF Chair Abraham Cooper said. “While 25 years has passed since USCIRF was created, it is more important now than ever to ensure that promoting freedom of religion or belief remains a key tenet of U.S. foreign policy. USCIRF’s independence and bipartisanship enables it to unflinchingly identify threats to religious freedom abroad, and despite there being dissent on certain issues included in the Annual Report, Commissioners remain committed to advancing religious freedom for all.”

In its 2024 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends 17 countries to the U.S. Department of State for designation as Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) based on their governments engaging in or tolerating particularly severe violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. These include 12 that the State Department designated as CPCs in December 2023: Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—as well as five additional recommendations: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

The 2024 Annual Report also recommends 11 countries for placement on the State Department’s Special Watch List (SWL) based on their governments’ perpetration or toleration of severe violations of religious freedom. These include one that the State Department placed on that list in December 2023: Algeria—as well as 10 additional recommendations: Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. While the State Department included Vietnam on its SWL in December 2023, USCIRF believes the government of Vietnam’s violations rise to the level of CPC status. Additionally, USCIRF recommends the State Department add Kyrgyzstan to the SWL for the first time due to the Kyrgyz government’s heightened religious repression in 2023.

USCIRF further recommends to the State Department seven non-state actors for redesignation as Entities of Particular Concern (EPCs) for particularly severe religious freedom violations. The State Department designated all seven of these groups as EPCs in December 2023: al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Houthis, Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel), Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) (also referred to as ISIS-West Africa), and Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM).

Throughout 2023, the U.S. government regularly condemned abuses of religious freedom, imposed targeted sanctions on perpetrators, and advocated for the release of those imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of their religion or belief.” USCIRF Vice Chair Frederick A. Davie said. “We are encouraged by the Biden administration’s and Congress’ support for many initiatives related to international religious freedom. However, the U.S. government can further enhance efforts regarding religious freedom by implementing all of the recommendations in our 2024 Annual Report, and raising the names of victims persecuted for their faith each time the U.S. government engages with foreign governments.”

In addition to country chapters with key findings and U.S. policy recommendations, the 2024 Annual Report describes and assesses U.S. international religious freedom policy overall. The report also highlights important global developments and trends related to religious freedom during 2023, including in countries that do not meet the criteria for CPC or SWL. These include transnational repression by religious freedom violators, laws restricting religious freedom, attacks against religious sites in armed conflict, risks to religious minorities during elections, rising of antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, religious freedom concerns in Europe, and religious freedom issues for refugees.

The report also highlights key USCIRF recommendations that the U.S. government  implemented from USCIRF’s 2023 Annual Report—including adding Azerbaijan to the State Department’s SWL, imposing targeted sanctions on religious freedom violators, and advocating for religious prisoners of conscience, such as those included in USCIRF’s Frank R. Wolf  Freedom of Religion or Belief Victims List.

The 2024 Annual Report event recording can be viewed here.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at


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