The annual report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom shows that about half of the world's population lives in countries where religious freedom violations occur.
According to the report, released last month, some 27 countries engage in or tolerate attacks on religious freedom.
"It's happening all over the world," USCIRF commission member James Carr lamented, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The USCIRF designated 15 of the 27 nations as "Countries of Particular Concern," or countries where the government "engages in or tolerates 'particularly severe' violations of religious freedom," the report noted.
The top countries where religious freedom violations occur are Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, India, Burma or Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, and Eritrea, Christianity Daily reports.
The report also recommends that five countries be designated as Countries of Particular Concern. Those countries are Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Syria and Vietnam.
The CPC designation is reserved for countries where the government engages in or tolerates "systematic, ongoing, and egregious [religous freedom] violations, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; prolonged detention without charges; causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction or clandestine detention of those persons; flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons."
For example, Christians in Nigeria face blasphemy charges and convictions, violence, and attacks for participating in religious activities.
In a statement, USCIRF commission chair Nadine Maenza said she was "disheartened" about the "deterioration of freedom of religion or belief...especially Afghanistan under the Taliban's de facto government since August ."
"Religious minorities have faced harassment, detention, and even death due to their faith or beliefs, and years of progress toward more equitable access to education and representation of women and girls have disappeared," Maennza remarked, as reported by Crux Now.
Twelve other countries were listed in the commission's "Special Watch List," including Cuba, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Turkey, Algeria, and many more.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.