US State Department Adds Azerbaijan to Religious Freedom Watch List

On January 4, 2024, the U.S. State Department issued a statement indicating that Azerbaijan has been added to the list of countries scrutinized for religious freedom concerns

In a statement released on behalf of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, it explicitly notes: “Promoting freedom of religion or belief has been a primary objective of U.S. foreign policy since 1998, with the enactment and implementation of the International Religious Freedom Act by Congress. In line with this enduring commitment, I have identified Burma, the People's Republic of China, Cuba, the DPRK, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as countries of particular concern where serious violations of religious freedom are tolerated. Furthermore, I have designated Algeria, Azerbaijan, the Central African Republic, the Comoros Islands, and Vietnam for special review due to significant concerns regarding serious violations of religious freedom or intolerance."

The announcement further asserts that governments must cease abuses, including attacks on members of religious minority communities and their places of worship, communal and transnational repression, and calls for violence against religious communities.