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State Department singles out eight nations for religious freedom violations


WASHINGTON (RNS) Just before the end of the Bush administration last January, the U.S. State Department redesignated eight nations as “countries of particular concern” because of their religious freedom violations.

The independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom learned of the designations, which were authorized Jan. 16 under then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and announced them March 27. The panel had asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February to release the department’s latest list of designated countries.

The State Department responded by sending the commission Rice’s designations of Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan as “countries of particular concern.” Those same countries were named in 2006.