The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has removed Uzbekistan from its list of “Countries of particular concern”. In a report released on April 28, the Commission recommended that the US State Department add Uzbekistan to its “Special watch list countries”.
The Commission’s report acknowledged the changes that Uzbekistan had made in the sphere of religious freedom in 2019, in particular the closure of the Jasliq prison.
“In 2019, religious freedom conditions in Uzbekistan trended positively. The government took notable steps to address some of the long-standing and significant religious freedom concerns that had led USCIRF to recommend Uzbekistan’s designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), every year since 2005, including in April 2019. Throughout 2019, the government by and large successfully enforced a ban on law enforcement authorities raiding and harassing religious communities, and in August announced the closure of the notorious Jasliq prison, a course of action USCIRF had recommended. The government also continued to engage closely with the United States and other international partners to improve religious freedom,” the report said.
It should be noted that the US State Department removed Uzbekistan from the list of “Countries of particular concern” in December 2018.
However, USCIRF did not approve the State Department’s decision in April 2019, recommending that Uzbekistan be blacklisted.
However, the Commission’s recommendation was ignored by the State Department, which in December 2019 left Uzbekistan in the category of “Special watch list countries”.
Along with Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Central African Republic, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Sudan and Turkey are included in the “Special watch list countries”.