July 9th 2021 | USCIRF

In 2015, USCIRF for the first time recommended the Central African Republic (CAR) be designated by the State Department a Country of Particular Concern for systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom following years of sectarian violence that erupted after a 2013 coup. As the violence against religious minority communities subsided in subsequent years, in 2020, USCIRF recommended CAR be placed on the State Department’s Special Watchlist, a step in the right direction. While concerns for religious freedom in CAR remain, there has been further notable progress during the past year.

In its most recent 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF did not recommend CAR be included on the State Department’s Special Watchlist or be designated a Country of Particular Concern. Today we will learn more about what prompted the decision to remove CAR from the Special Watchlist recommendation, what progress has been made, and what challenges remain for religious freedom and religious minorities in CAR. Joining us to provide insight into the situation is USCIRF Policy Analyst for West and Central Africa, Madeline Vellturo, and Dr. Gino Vlavonou, a Consulting Program Officer with the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council.