The Biden administration is including the Wagner Group, an notorious personal Russian navy agency, to the checklist of Entities of Specific Concern beneath the Worldwide Spiritual Freedom Act “based mostly on its actions within the Central African Republic,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned on Friday.
As well as, Cuba and Nicaragua had been added to the 2022 checklist of Nations of Specific Concern, that means they’ve “engaged in or tolerated extreme violations of spiritual freedom.” China, Russia, Iran, Myanmar, Eritrea, North Korea and Pakistan stay on the checklist.
Blinken additionally mentioned he was “putting Algeria, the Central African Republic, Comoros, and Vietnam on the Particular Watch Listing for partaking in or tolerating extreme violations of spiritual freedom.”
“World wide, governments and non-state actors harass, threaten, jail, and even kill people on account of their beliefs. In some cases, they stifle people’ freedom of faith or perception to use alternatives for political acquire. These actions sow division, undermine financial safety, and threaten political stability and peace. The USA won’t stand by within the face of those abuses,” Blinken mentioned.
The designations are required to be made beneath the Worldwide Spiritual Freedom Act of 1998. Nations which are named as Nations of Specific Concern might face sanctions, because the US authorities is required by the regulation to impose a number of “presidential actions” in opposition to these international locations until a waiver is granted or an exception is made as a result of they’re already sanctioned.
Based on a State Division official, waivers had been issued this yr to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as a result of it was decided that “the vital nationwide curiosity of the US require[d] the train of such waiver authority.”
Burma, Cuba, China, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua and Russia got an exception on a brand new “presidential motion” and are as an alternative thought of “dual-hatted,” that means they had been already sanctioned in different areas however at the moment are additionally thought of sanctioned as Nations of Specific Concern.
The Wagner Group now joins different Entities of Specific Concern on the checklist: al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Larger Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin and the Taliban.
CNN has completed in depth reporting on the Wagner Group’s financing of military recruits within the Central African Republic by tons of of Russian mercenaries.
Based on the State Division official, “Wagner disproportionately focused members of spiritual minority teams throughout operations in opposition to insurgent teams, in some instances killing Muslim civilians based mostly on perceived and unverified affiliations with armed teams.”
“In lots of cases, Wagner didn’t discriminate between armed components and bizarre civilians of spiritual minority communities,” the official mentioned. “Wagner additionally engaged in mass killings focusing on Fulani communities.”
“We condemn Wagner’s focusing on of Muslim communities and urge the CAR authorities to carry its safety companions accountable and contemplate the harmful implications of Wagner’s continued presence within the nation,” the official mentioned.
In an announcement, Blinken mentioned that the “announcement of those designations is in line with our values and pursuits to guard nationwide safety and to advance human rights across the globe. Nations that successfully safeguard this and different human rights are extra peaceable, steady, affluent and extra dependable companions of the US than these that don’t.”
He added that the US welcomes the chance to satisfy with governments to debate practices that “don’t meet worldwide requirements and commitments, and to stipulate concrete steps in a pathway to removing from these lists.”
The Biden administration is contemplating designating the Wagner Group as a international terrorist group amid ongoing efforts to impose prices on Russia for the Ukraine conflict, a US official advised CNN this week.
The US Fee on Worldwide Spiritual Freedom, or USCIRF, condemned the exclusion of India and Nigeria from this yr’s Nations of Specific Concern checklist.
“There isn’t any justification for the State Division’s failure to acknowledge Nigeria or India as egregious violators of spiritual freedom, as they every clearly meet the authorized requirements for designation as CPCs. USCIRF is tremendously upset that the Secretary of State didn’t implement our suggestions and acknowledge the severity of the non secular freedom violations that each USCIRF and the State Division have documented in these international locations,” USCIRF Chair Nury Turkel mentioned in an announcement.
“The State Division’s personal reporting contains quite a few examples of notably extreme non secular freedom violations in Nigeria and India,” he mentioned.
This story has been up to date with extra particulars.