US Senator expresses disappointment over exclusion of India from CPC list; seeks immediate Congressional report from State Department
In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Senator James Lankford demanded that the State Department provide a report to appropriate Congressional committees explaining why countries like India were left off the CPC list.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. (December 15, 2022) – The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) commended Oaklahoma Senator James Lankford for his letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in which he expressed his “extreme disappointment” that countries known for extreme religious freedoms violations, including India, were not designated as Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) in 2022.
For the past three years, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal government commission, has recommended that the State Department designate India as a CPC due to ongoing and egregious violations of human rights and religious freedoms. However, despite several reports from USCIRF stating that India matches the description of a CPC, a label reserved for the world’s most egregious violators of religious freedoms, the State Department has repeatedly failed to designate India as such.
“India was not formally designated despite overt and repeated severe violations of religious freedom. India is an important security partner for the United States and a key counter-weight against China in the Indo-Pacific region,” wrote Senator Lankford. “In the context of that partnership, the United States must have a robust discussion about the deteriorating religious freedom conditions for religious minorities in India.”
Lankford Letter to Blinken
“I welcome the Department’s explanation for why, in its view, a formal designation would not enhance our efforts to promote human rights in partner countries, such as India.”
Senator Lankford further called on the State Department to provide their rationale for leaving India and other violators off the CPC list, citing that federal law requires that “an annual report detailing the state of religious freedom in each foreign country… be transmitted to Congress.”
The report “required the Department to provide the rationale for differences in CPC designations to the appropriate congressional committees within 30 days of such decision,” Senator Lankford wrote. “To date, this report has yet to be provided to Congress.”
“It is the responsibility of all nations to encourage these rights of freedom of religion, belief and conscience worldwide… With this shared goal in mind, I eagerly await the Department’s legally-required report to Congress,” the letter concluded.
The Indian American Muslim Council reiterates Senator Lankford’s demands to Secretary Blinken and calls on the State Department to act in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 by providing a report explaining why India and other nations were left off the 2022 CPC list.