USCIRF fails to recommend Taliban as “entity of particular concern.” Why?

By May 9, 2024

USA (MNN) — The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is not letting up on Afghanistan, but there’s a twist.

Since 2022, USCIRF has recommended the State Department designate Afghanistan as a country of particular concern (CPC). Each year, the State Department fails to do so.

However, last year, the State Department did designate the Taliban as an entity of particular concern (EPC).

After the State Department’s 2023 decision, USCIRF released a statement criticizing the decision and pointed out that the State Department often highlights Afghanistan’s particularly severe religious freedom violations.

Earlier this month, USCIRF released its annual report with recommendations for 2024.

The Voice of the Martyrs USA’s Todd Nettleton points out, “The [2024] report calls for Afghanistan to be listed as a country of particular concern. It does not call for the Taliban to be listed as an entity of particular concern.”

(Photo courtesy of VOM Canada)

Although USCIRF stops short of recommending an EPC designation, it does at least call out the Taliban’s violations of religious freedom in its assessment of Afghanistan.

Still, is that enough?

“I wonder what the logic and the expectation is behind that,” says Nettleton.

“We know the Taliban is the government of Afghanistan. They’re running the country now. So, if you say the Taliban is bad, you are saying the Afghan government does not respect religious freedom, so I understand the logic of it. But I would be interested to hear their background and what the thinking was that went into that.”

The CPC and EPC designations are more than just arbitrary labels. Countries and entities on these lists from the State Department typically face stricter sanctions and political action from the US government, which can lead to positive changes for religious freedom.

Nettleton says, “I just would encourage people to pray for leaders…. These are recommendations. We wait now to see months from now what the State Department will do with these recommendations. But hopefully, it will be something that is a part of our foreign policy.”

Ask God to strengthen persecuted Afghan believers to continue following Christ. Pray that, no matter what happens on a political level, the Gospel will be unabashedly proclaimed to reach those seeking truth in Afghanistan.





Header photo courtesy of VOM USA.

Help us get the word out: