This was announced in a statement by Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State.
Pompeo said it is in line with the United States’ desire to “work diligently to promote religious freedom and combat abuses”.
Countries in this category can face further actions, including economic sanctions.
“On Dec. 18, 2019, the Department of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom’,” the statement read.
It also notes that Comoros, Russia, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan are on a “Special Watch List” for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.”
Pompeo concluded that the US would “continue to challenge state and non-state entities that seek to infringe upon those fundamental rights and to ensure they are held to account for their actions.”
He added: “Our actions have been, and will continue to be, consistent with our position on religious freedom. No country, entity, or individual should be able to persecute people of faith without accountability. We have acted, and we will continue to do so.”