USCIRF report: COVID restrictions used to discriminate against believers

22 April 2021 21:55
Disinfection of the temple. Photo: Disinfection of the temple. Photo:

The annual USCIRF report describes how some countries have used quarantine restrictions as well as disinformation to discriminate against religious communities.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has released a report on discrimination against religious minorities during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the “ChristianPost”.

USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin said at a press conference that though public health measures in most countries to slow the spread of COVID-19 complied with international human rights standards, some countries used these measures to discriminate against religious minorities.

“Unfortunately, it had a negative impact in many ways …,” she said. “What we found to be unacceptable were where minorities were targeted in much stricter fashion, and their activities were restricted much more harshly than other religions across the country, and that’s where the problem arose.”

“Also, there were countries that literally blamed the COVID-19 virus on a particular religion, [claiming] that they were responsible for the spread of that virus across their country,” she continued.

“While many of these restrictions were justifiable under public health exceptions defined in international law, some restrictions harmed religious minorities or otherwise violated freedom of religion or belief,” the report reads.

“As the restrictions are lifted, we will be watching very closely to make sure that those restrictions are being lifted fairly across the country to all religions,” Manchin said.

The annual report assesses the religious liberty standards in 26 countries to provide policy recommendations to the U.S. government. USCIRF named 14 countries to be designated CPCs. These include 10 countries already recognized by the State Department as CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

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