• USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett

  • Vice Chairman Dr. George and National Endowment for Democracy's William Galston discussing USCIRF's 2014 Annual Report.

  • USCIRF Vice Chairman Dr. Robert P. George with other witnesses prior to their testimony before Congress on Protecting Religious Freedom: U.S. Efforts to Hold Accountable Countries of Particular Concern, May 23, 2014

  • USCIRF Commissioner Eric P. Schwartz testifies before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on "The Persecution of Religious and Indigenous Communities in Vietnam," March 22, 2014

  • USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett and Commissioner Mary Ann Glendon, along with Jackie Wolcott and Knox Thames, at an event at the European Parliament. Also pictured are Members of the European Parliament, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and members of the EPRID NGO coalition, February 2014

  • From left to right: USCIRF Vice Chair Dr. Robert P. George, Natan Sharansky, USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett, and Tom Lantos Human Righs Commission Co-Chair Rep. Frank Wolf. 

  • USCIRF Vice Chairman Dr. Robert P. George testifies before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on "Highlighting the Plight of Prisoners of Conscience around the World," January 16, 2014

  • USCIRF Vice-Chairs Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett and Dr. M Zuhdi Jasser meet in Bahrain with Minister for Human Rights Salah bin Ali Abdul Rahman to raise religious freedom concerns, January 2014

  • USCIRF Executive Director Jackie Wolcott (L) and Chair Katrina Lantos Swett (R) meet with Representative Eliot Engel, Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

  • USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett testifies before House Foreign Affairs Joint Subcommittee hearing alongside Mrs. Nagmeh Abedini, December 12, 2013

USCIRF's 2014 Annual Report

USCIRF Issues its 2014 Annual Report

15th Anniversary Retrospective:  Renewing the Commitment

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal advisory body the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) created to monitor religious freedom abuses abroad, today released its 2014 Annual Report, and recommended that the State Department add eight more nations to its list of “countries of particular concern,” defined under law as countries where particularly severe violations of religious freedom are tolerated or perpetrated: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam

USCIRF also recommended that the following eight countries be re-designated as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan

View the 2014 Annual Report presentation at the National Endowment for Democracy here.

Defending Freedoms Project

In December 2012, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, in conjunction with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Amnesty International USA, launched the Defending Freedoms Project with the aim of supporting human rights and religious freedom throughout the world with a particular focus on prisoners of conscience.

Specifically, Members of Congress “adopt” prisoners of conscience, standing in solidarity with these brave men and women, while committing to advocate publicly for their release.

Click here to find more information on the Defending Freedoms Project.

Top Row: Agnes Uwimana Nkusi – Rwanda , Saeed Abedini – Iran, Father Nguyen Van Ly – Vietnam

Middle Row: Gao Zhisheng – China, Nabeel Rajab – Bahrain

Bottom Row: Mahvash Sabet – Iran, Asia Bibi – Pakistan, Dawit Issac – Eritrea.

Spotlight

Despite the June 2013 election of a new and purportedly moderate president, the already-poor religious freedom conditions in Iran have continued to deteriorate, particularly for religious minorities, especially Baha’is and Christian converts.  Sufi and Sunni Muslims and dissenting Shi’a Muslims also faced harassment, arrests, and imprisonment.  For more information, view the following:

In June 2014, USCIRF’s then Chair Dr. Robert P. George testified before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a hearing entitled “One Year Under Rouhani: Iran’s Abysmal Human Rights Record.”  From the testimony:

“President Rouhani has not delivered on his campaign promises of strengthening civil liberties for religious minorities. In fact, the number of Baha’is and Christians in prison for their faith increased over the past year.”

In May 2014, USCIRF then Vice Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett and then Chair Dr. Robert P. George wrote an op-ed: Iran’s Forgotten Prisoners of Conscience, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal.  From the op-ed:

“While all religious communities in Iran have suffered persecution since the 1979 Khomeinist revolution, none have fared worse than the Baha'is. The government has since killed more than 200 Baha'i leaders and removed more than 10,000 from government and university positions.”

In April 2014, USCIRF released its 2014 Annual Report.  Click here to read USCIRF’s 2014 Annual Report chapter on Iran (English).  Click here to read chapter in Farsi.  From the report:

"The government of Iran continues to engage in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused.”

The Religious Violence Project

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has launched the Religious Violence Project to highlight violations of religious freedom abroad. Learn More

USCIRF's 2013 Annual Report

USCIRF’s 2013 Annual Report highlights the status of religious freedom globally and identifies those governments that are the most egregious violators. Click here to view the Presentation and Discussion of USCIRF's 2013 Annual Report at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

USCIRF Staff Perspectives

China Criticized for Banning Ramadan Fast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2014 | USCIRF

WASHINGTON, DC – As Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan, Uighur Muslims in China face far-reaching restrictions on their religious practices.  The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) urges the Chinese government to end such actions, including bans on fasting and other religious observances during Ramadan in China’s autonomous region of Xinjiang, a Uighur Muslim-majority area. 

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett Elected USCIRF Chair

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2014 | USCIRF

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, was elected on July 1, 2014 as Chair of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).  Dr. Swett was first appointed to the Commission in March 2012 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and reappointed in April 2014. 

Sudan: Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Detained Again

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2014 | USCIRF

The U.S. Commission on  International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is gravely concerned about the Sudanese government’s arrest of Meriam Ibrahim Ishag on document fraud charges and her being held with her family at a Khartoum police station following their June 24 detention at Khartoum’s airport as they sought to leave the country. USCIRF calls on the Sudanese government to release them immediately and has lodged a strong protest with the Sudanese Embassy in Washington D.C.

Testimony of USCIRF Chairman Dr. Robert P. George on One Year Under Rouhani: Iran’s Abysmal Human Rights Record

USCIRF Chairman Dr. Robert P. George testified on June 19 before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a hearing entitled “One Year Under Rouhani: Iran’s Abysmal Human Rights Record.”

From the testimony:

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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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