A U.S. panel on religious freedom is asking the State Department to add eight more countries to the list where severe violations of religious freedom are tolerated by their governments. In its annual report
, the Commission on International Religious Freedom named Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam as new "countries of particular concern."
The commission also calls on the State Department to renew this status for eight other countries, where there has been no improvement - Burma, also known as Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.
The report lists 33 countries across the globe where violations were reported last year, but not considered "countries of particular concern. They range from democracies such as India to dictatorships including Belarus and violence-wracked places such as the Central African Republic.
The commission recommends the president, secretary of state, and members of Congress stress the importance of religious freedom at every opportunity, including meetings with foreign officials.
It also calls on the State Department to impose travel restrictions on those responsible for violating religious rights.