The commission recommended re-designating Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as CPC and adding to it along with India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.
WASHINGTON – A US commission mandated to monitor religious freedoms around the world on Tuesday recommended the Trump administration should add India to a list of countries seen by the US as systematic and egregious violators and sanction Indian government agencies and officials responsible for it.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) cited the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which fast-tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslim refugees fleeing persecution, and “nationwide campaigns of harassment and violence against religious minorities” as its reasons.
In its 2020 annual report released Tuesday, the commission recommended that the US government (technically, the state government) should designate India a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC), for “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations”. India was on the commission’s for Tier 2 list of countries to be watched in 2019.
The commission also recommended that the US government should impose targeted sanctions against Indian government agencies and officials responsible for religious freedom violations, freeze their assets in the United States and ban them from entering the country.
It separately recommended to US congress to continue to hold hearings on the state of religious freedoms in India.
It could not be immediately ascertained if the recommendation were binding and whether the Trump administration would indeed accept those meant for the the US government. It had ignored a previous recommendation by the commission in December to sanction Union home minister Amit Shah if the CAA was enacted.
India had dismissed the USCIRF’s December recommendations as “guided only by its prejudices and biases” and has in the past denied its officials entry into the country.
The commission held a hearing on India’s citizenship laws and changes and the state of religious freedom in March at which the CAA and a proposed National Register of Citizens had been criticized by expert witnesses as aimed as India’s Muslim minorities.
The commission recommended re-designating Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as CPC and adding to it along with India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam. It also sought for Cuba, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Uzbekistan to be kept on the next tier of special watch list and add 11 more: Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Central African Republic (CAR), Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Turkey.