US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Reuters-Yonhap)
WASHINGTON -- The United States on Monday renewed its designation of North Korea as one of the state violators of religious freedom.
It marks the 19th consecutive year the North has been named a state violator of religious freedom.
"Religious freedom is an unalienable right, and the bedrock upon which free societies are built and flourish. Today, the United States -- a nation founded by those fleeing religious persecution, as the recent Commission on Unalienable Rights report noted -- once again took action to defend those who simply want to exercise this essential freedom," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a released statement.
North Korea and nine other states were designated "countries of particular concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for "engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom," according to the statement.
They include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
The US also placed four other countries -- Comoros, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia -- on a special watch list for governments that "have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom."
The list also included 10 other entities -- including ISIS and the Taliban -- designated as "Entities of Particular Concern" under a separate 2016 US act of religious freedom.
"The United States will continue to work tirelessly to end religiously motivated abuses and persecution around the world, and to help ensure that each person, everywhere, at all times, has the right to live according to the dictates of conscience," Pompeo said in the statement. (Yonhap)