US adds Russian mercenary firm Wagner Group to entities of concern under International Religious Freedom Act & More Trending News



The Biden administration is including the Wagner Group, an notorious non-public Russian navy firm, to the listing of Entities of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act “based on its actions in the Central African Republic,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned on Friday.

In addition, Cuba and Nicaragua have been added to the 2022 listing of Countries of Particular Concern, which means they’ve “engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.” China, Russia, Iran, Myanmar, Eritrea, North Korea and Pakistan stay on the listing.

Blinken additionally mentioned he was “placing Algeria, the Central African Republic, Comoros, and Vietnam on the Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.”

“Around the world, governments and non-state actors harass, threaten, jail, and even kill individuals on account of their beliefs. In some instances, they stifle individuals’ freedom of religion or belief to exploit opportunities for political gain. These actions sow division, undermine economic security, and threaten political stability and peace. The United States will not stand by in the face of these abuses,” Blinken mentioned.

The designations are required to be made under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Nations which can be named as Countries of Particular Concern may face sanctions, because the US authorities is required by the regulation to impose a number of “presidential actions” in opposition to these nations until a waiver is granted or an exception is made as a result of they’re already sanctioned.

According to a State Department official, waivers have been issued this yr to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as a result of it was decided that “the important national interest of the United States require[d] the exercise of such waiver authority.”

Burma, Cuba, China, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua and Russia got an exception on a brand new “presidential action” and are as a substitute thought-about “dual-hatted,” which means they have been already sanctioned in different areas however at the moment are additionally thought-about sanctioned as Countries of Particular Concern.

This general view shows the PMC Wagner Centre in Russia, associated with the founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The Wagner Group now joins different Entities of Particular Concern on the listing: al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin and the Taliban.

CNN has achieved in depth reporting on the Wagner Group’s financing of military recruits within the Central African Republic by lots of of Russian mercenaries.

According to the State Department official, “Wagner disproportionately targeted members of religious minority groups during operations against rebel groups, in some cases killing Muslim civilians based on perceived and unverified affiliations with armed groups.”

“In many instances, Wagner did not discriminate between armed elements and ordinary civilians of religious minority communities,” the official mentioned. “Wagner also engaged in mass killings targeting Fulani communities.”

“We condemn Wagner’s targeting of Muslim communities and urge the CAR government to hold its security partners accountable and consider the destructive implications of Wagner’s continued presence in the country,” the official mentioned.

In a press release, Blinken mentioned that the “announcement of these designations is in keeping with our values and interests to protect national security and to advance human rights around the globe. Countries that effectively safeguard this and other human rights are more peaceful, stable, prosperous and more reliable partners of the United States than those that do not.”

He added that the US welcomes the chance to meet with governments to focus on practices that “do not meet international standards and commitments, and to outline concrete steps in a pathway to removal from these lists.”

The Biden administration is contemplating designating the Wagner Group as a overseas terrorist group amid ongoing efforts to impose prices on Russia for the Ukraine conflict, a US official informed CNN this week.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, or USCIRF, condemned the exclusion of India and Nigeria from this yr’s Countries of Particular Concern listing.

“There is no justification for the State Department’s failure to recognize Nigeria or India as egregious violators of religious freedom, as they each clearly meet the legal standards for designation as CPCs. USCIRF is tremendously disappointed that the Secretary of State did not implement our recommendations and recognize the severity of the religious freedom violations that both USCIRF and the State Department have documented in those countries,” USCIRF Chair Nury Turkel mentioned in a press release.

“The State Department’s own reporting includes numerous examples of particularly severe religious freedom violations in Nigeria and India,” he mentioned.

This story has been up to date with extra particulars.

US adds Russian mercenary firm Wagner Group to entities of concern under International Religious Freedom Act

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US adds Russian mercenary firm Wagner Group to entities of concern under International Religious Freedom Act

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US adds Russian mercenary firm Wagner Group to entities of concern under International Religious Freedom Act

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