State Department Should Deliver an Honest Message about Turkey’s Religious Freedom Record

The US Department of State’s annual report on international religious freedom, released on May 12, documents the ongoing erosion of freedom of religion or belief in Turkey. The report echoes the concerns the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) raised three weeks earlier in its annual report. Foggy Bottom, however, will likely continue its tradition of giving Ankara a free pass by ignoring USCIRF’s recurrent recommendation since 2009 for the US government to include Turkey on the State Department’s “Special Watch List” for “engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.” Given the Turkish government’s particularly troubling conduct in 2020, Secretary of State Antony Blinken should deliver an honest message about the alarming trajectory of religious freedoms in Turkey.

Both the State Department and USCIRF issue their respective annual reports in compliance with the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. The law established the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department, headed by an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. The statute also established USCIRF as an independent and bipartisan federal government entity. While the State Department submitted its first annual report to Congress on international religious freedom in September 2009, USCIRF has been issuing annual reports since May 2000. In preparing its annual report, the State Department is required to take USCIRF’s report and recommendations into account. The secretary of state has the option of designating a grave offender as a “Country of Particular Concern”—a category reserved for the governments with the worst records, whose violations are “systematic, ongoing, and egregious.” Such a designation has the potential to trigger IRFA-based sanctions.

Συνέχεια ανάγνωσης εδώ


Σχετικά Άρθρα