Welcome to USCIRF

  • Welcome to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) webpage! Click here to learn more about the work of USCIRF. Click here to learn more about the Commissioners of USCIRF.

  • USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark spoke to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe about religious freedom in the OSCE region. Watch the briefing and read Chairman Daniel Mark's statement here.

  • Senator James Lankford (center), USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark (left), and Vice Chairwoman Sandra Jolley (not pictured) participated in a briefing on Turkey Today: Taking the Temperature of Religious Freedom and Human Rights.  Watch the recorded briefing here.

  • In November, USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga (3rd from left), Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee (4th from left), and Senior Policy Analyst Tina Mufford, along with Political Officer Sean Smith of the U.S. Embassy, met with Minister of Religious Affairs & Culture Thura U Aung Ko (4th from right) during a Commission trip to Burma (Myanmar).  

  • USCIRF is proud to announce its new “Policy Update” series. This periodic publication will include information and analysis related to the status of religious freedom in the countries USCIRF monitors. This Policy Update focuses on ASEAN and "ASEAN’S Record on Freedom of Religion or Belief." Read the Policy Update here.

  • UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Prof. Karima Bennoune met with Commissioner Thomas Reese, Vice Chair Sandra Jolley, and Chairman Daniel Mark to discuss her mandate and her work on women's rights. Read about USCIRF's work on women and religious freedom here.

  • Cuban religious freedom activist Felix Yuniel Llerena Lopez met with Commissioner Thomas Reese, Chairman Daniel Mark, Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga, Commissioner Jackie Wolcott, Vice Chairwoman Sandra Jolley, and Commissioner John Ruskay to express his gratitude for USCIRF’s advocacy on his behalf. Representatives from the Patmos Institute provided an update on religious freedom conditions in Cuba and shared their submission for Cuba’s 2018 Universal Periodic Review.

  • USCIRF Vice Chairwomen Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga, and Commissioners Jackie Walcott and Thomas Reese met with UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Prof. Karima Bennoune and representatives from the non-profit, governmental, and academic sectors for a private roundtable discussion on women and religious freedom. Read more about USCIRF's work on women and religious freedom here.

     

  • On October 25, USCIRF Commissioner Tom Reese, Director of Policy Dwight Bashir, and Policy Analyst Jomana Qaddour met with a delegation of Syrian Christian leaders concerned about the fate of their communities in war-torn Syria. Read USCIRF’s annual report chapter about Syria.

  • USCIRF Commissioner Thomas J. Reese, S.J. spoke to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission about religious freedom in Vietnam.  To his left is USCIRF-adopted religious prisoner of conscience Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and his wife Tran Thi Hong.  Read Father Reese's statement here.

What's New at USCIRF

Throughout 2017, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has promoted its 50th year of existence, marked on August 8. The regional bloc comprising 10 countries has grown and integrated in ways hardly dreamed of five decades ago. But to this day, ASEAN lacks cohesion on human rights issues and, in particular, has a flawed record protecting freedom of religion or belief, both as a collective regional bloc and as individual Member States. The good news is that ASEAN possesses both the raw materials and the incentive to turn its record around. read more
Join the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Ambassador Kozak, USCIRF Chairman Dr. Daniel Mark, and other experts at a briefing discussing religious freedom violations in the OSCE region. read more
USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark said that “failing to designate CPCs tells the violators of religious freedom around the world that the United States is looking away.  The State Department should make such designations without delay.” read more
USCIRF, in conjunction with Senator James Lankford, is pleased to invite you to a briefing on TURKEY TODAY: Taking the Temperature of Religious Freedom and Human Rights.  read more
  Since South Sudan’s secession in 2011, USCIRF has documented an escalation in the Sudanese government’s persecution of Christians. Over a six-year period, the Sudanese government has arrested almost 200 Christians, including 14 religious authorities; threatened dozens of churches and related church buildings, including through demolition, closure, and expropriation; and continued to discriminate against Christians and promote Islam. read more

Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project

USCIRF's Religious Prisoner of Conscience Project highlights individuals imprisoned for exercising their freedom of religion or belief, as well as the dedicated advocacy of USCIRF Commissioners working for their release. Please click the photos below for more information on the prisoners, and the Commissioners' efforts on their behalfs.
 
Featured Religious Prisoner:
Raif Badawi (Saudi Arabi
 

 
 
Click here for information on Raif Badawi and religious freedom conditions in Saudi Arabia.
Click here to watch the launch of the Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. 
 

USCIRF Religious Prisoners of Conscience

 

 

 

Prisoner of Conscience List

Click here for USCIRF's Prisoner of Conscience List which is mandated by Public Law 114-281, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act.

Tweets from @USCIRF

USCIRF Focus: Blasphemy Laws

Respecting Rights? Measuring the World’s Blasphemy Laws catalogs the offending laws found in a wide range of countries. In some countries, blasphemy laws are enforced weakly, if at all, yet such laws, “in both theory and practice, harm individuals and societies.” The report details laws spanning the globe from countries such as Canada and Switzerland to Iran and Indonesia with penalties ranging from fines to death. Surprisingly, more than one-third of the world’s nations have blasphemy laws today.

Selected Blasphemy Cases seeks to put a human face on blasphemy laws. The individuals highlighted here are only a sample of those who have been negatively impacted by blasphemy laws. For some we have pictures, but for many we do not. Read their stories, the charges against them, and their sentences to better understand the devastating impact of these laws and the need for repeal.

Women and Religious Freedom: Synergies and Opportunities

While a common misperception persists that women’s rights to equality and freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) are clashing rights, the two are actually indivisible and interrelated, as shown in Women and Religious Freedom: Synergies and Opportunities. FoRB is neither a right of “religion” as such, nor an instrument for support of religiously phrased limitations on women’s rights to equality. Harmful practices affecting women and girls cannot be accepted as legitimate manifestations of FoRB because the assertion of one human rights claim cannot be used to extinguish other rights.

Policy Update- Flawed But Redeemable: ASEAN’S Record on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Throughout 2017, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has promoted its 50th year of existence, marked on August 8. The regional bloc comprising 10 countries has grown and integrated in ways hardly dreamed of five decades ago. But to this day, ASEAN lacks cohesion on human rights issues and, in particular, has a flawed record protecting freedom of religion or belief, both as a collective regional bloc and as individual Member States. The good news is that ASEAN possesses both the raw materials and the incentive to turn its record around.

Policy Update: Sudan-The Shrinking Space for and Increasing Persecution of Christians

 

Since South Sudan’s secession in 2011, USCIRF has documented an escalation in the Sudanese government’s persecution of Christians. Over a six-year period, the Sudanese government has arrested almost 200 Christians, including 14 religious authorities; threatened dozens of churches and related church buildings, including through demolition, closure, and expropriation; and continued to discriminate against Christians and promote Islam.

President Trump: Support Religious Freedom in China

With President Trump going to China, we must not forget the persecution and struggles of Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and the many other members of religious and ethnic minority communities.  The Chinese government must uphold, not repress, their rich religious and cultural traditions and free the many prisoners of conscience, including the Panchen Lama and Gulmira Imin.

Policy Update: Central African Republic Factsheet

The Central African Republic has a long history of political strife, coups, severe human rights abuses, and underdevelopment. Despite this, sectarian violence and targeted killing based on religious identity are new to the majority-Christian country. The ongoing conflict started after the 2013 coup by a coalition of Muslim-majority militias and has resulted in thousands of people dead, 2.2 million in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 480,000 refugees, and more than 500,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Commissioner Thomas J. Reese, S.J., Remarks to Vietnam Caucus/Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Religious Freedom in Vietnam

"Pastor and Mrs. Hong, I honor you for your resiliency under the cruel conditions under which you lived and being forced to leave your country. You inspire all of us to advocate for those who are imprisoned for their religious beliefs, activities, and advocacy."

USCIRF's Elizabeth Cassidy, Director of International Law and Policy, and Tina Mufford, Senior Policy Analyst, met with Malaysian Senator Datuk Paul Low (4th from L), Ambassador Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique (3rd from R), and other Malaysian officials.

On October 2, USCIRF's Elizabeth Cassidy, Director of International Law and Policy, and Tina Mufford, Senior Policy Analyst, met with Malaysian Senator Datuk Paul Low (4th from L), Ambassador Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique (3rd from R), and other Malaysian officials. Read USCIRF’s annual report chapter about Malaysia here.

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About the Commission

Who We Are

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

What We're About

Inherent in religious freedom is the right to think as we please, believe or not believe as our conscience leads, and live out our beliefs openly, peacefully, and without fear.

We are about freedom

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