A list highlighting countries where religious freedom is most at risk – including China and North Korea – has been released by the US Government.
The Department of State (DOS) has issued its annual roll of places designated as “Countries of Particular Concern” for having “actively engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
The list of ten countries also includes Burma, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The protection of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity.
In a press release, Heather Nauert, from the DOS, said: “In far too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.
“Today, a number of governments infringe upon individuals’ ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion or belief, worship in accordance with their religion or beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief.”
Nauert added: “The protection of religious freedom is vital to peace, stability, and prosperity.”
She went on to say that the publication of the list is “aimed at improving the respect for religious freedom in these countries”.
Pakistan has also been placed on a “Special Watch List” because of ongoing religious persecution in the country over the past twelve months.
The publication of the list is a requirement under the International Religious Freedom Act 1998.
Daniel Mark, of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, said it is a “key step in ensuring continued U.S. engagement in support of international religious freedom”.
Next week, Open Doors will have an official Parliamentary launch of its 2018 World Watch List, which monitors countries where Christian persecution is at its worst.