USCIRF Releases 2024 Annual Report with New Recommendations for U.S. Policy

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2024 Annual Report that documents developments during 2023, and provides recommendations to enhance the U.S. government’s promotion of freedom of religion or belief abroad. This is the 25th report issued since the Commission was established by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) in 1998.


Each year USCIRF offers an analysis of whether conditions in certain countries have improved, deteriorated, or stayed the same over the prior year. Former USCIRF Commissioner and current President of the IRF Secretariat, Nadine Maenza, shared a chart highlighting deteriorating conditions globally as discussed in the report.

Religious freedom global developments and trends identified in their 2024 report 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 antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, religious freedom concerns in Europe, and religious freedom issues for refugees.

Based on their governments engaging in or tolerating particularly severe violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief, USCIRF recommends 17 countries to the U.S. Department of State for designation as Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs). 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. The five additional recommendations made by USCIRF include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

The 11 countries recommended by USICRF for placement on the State Department’s Special Watch List (SWL) based on their governments’ perpetration or toleration of severe violations of religious freedom Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. (Note that Algeria was the only country recommended by the State Department.) Due to the Kyrgyz government’s heightened religious repression in 2023, USCIRF has added Krgyzstan to the SWL for the first time.

Seven non-state actors are recommended for redesignation as Entities of Particular Concern (EPCs) by USCIRF for particularly severe religious freedom violations: 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).

The U.S. government has implemented the recommendations USCIRF made in their 2023 annual report such as adding Azerbaijan to the State Department’s SWL, imposing targeted sanctions on religious freedom violators, raising IRF issues in bilateral and multilateral engagement, and advocating for religious prisoners of conscience. 

The USCIRF staff and appointed Commissioners are a trusted nonpartisan resource for the U.S. Government and for organizations such as 21Wilberforce. Their reports are vetted and based on data reported from local communities in the countries they cover as well as trips made by staff and Commissioners.

Read or download the USCIRF 2024 Annual Report here.