Welcome to USCIRF

  • USCIRF Vice Chairwomen Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga published an Op-Ed on January 11, 2017 in Religion News Service about U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson who has been imprisoned in Turkey for more than a year.  They visited with Pastor Brunson in Kiriklar Prison in October 2017.  Read the full text here.

  • 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 welcomed the State Department’s naming of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) for severe religious freedom violations.  This group comprises nations that violate religious freedom in a “systematic, ongoing, egregious” manner and includes Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The USCIRF Press Release may be found here.  The State Department announcement may be found here.

  • USCIRF's newest Press Release "State Department Announces the First Global Magnitsky Sanctions." “Global Magnitsky sanctions against individuals who have committed gross human rights abuses are an important new tool in the U.S. government’s human rights toolbox,” said USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark.” Read the full press release here.

     
     
     
  • USCIRF Vice Chairwomen Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga, and Commissioners Jackie Wolcott 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.

  • USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga (center right) and Commissioner Thomas J. Reese, S.J. (center left) met with Elijah Brown (center), the newly-appointed general secretary for the Baptist World Alliance, and other representatives from the Baptist World Alliance in January. USCIRF and BWA discussed issues related to religious freedom globally and heard from Mr. Brown about his plans for BWA in 2018.

  • 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 religious freedom conditions in Iraq. 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.

  • 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.

What's New at USCIRF

In her testimony, Vice Chairwoman Arriaga discussed USCIRF's Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. read more
Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, USCIRF Commissioner, testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China regarding ongoing religious freedom violations in Tibet.  read more
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was deeply saddened to learn of the death on Sunday of Ms. Asma Jahangir, a leading human rights defender in Pakistan and a former United Nations expert on freedom of religion or belief. “Ms. Jahangir was an outspoken critic of the Pakistani government’s misuse of blasphemy laws, particularly targeting Ahmadis and Christians,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “She did this despite great risk to her own personal safety. She will always be remembered as a fearless advocate for human rights both in Pakistan and around the globe.” read more
Thomas J. Reese, S.J., USCIRF Commissioner, testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission regarding the prevention of mass atrocities.  read more
This report examines Russian anti-extremist legislation, corresponding law enforcement practices, and their effects on freedom of religion or belief from 2011 to 2017. This research is focused on how the very regulations that ostensibly protect people and organizations in Russia from religious intolerance are instead used by authorities to sanction people and organizations for activity or speech based on their religious belief or lack thereof.  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.

USCIRF Daily News Digest

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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.

USCIRF Mourns Death of Leading Pakistani Human Rights Defender

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was deeply saddened to learn of the death on Sunday of Ms. Asma Jahangir, a leading human rights defender in Pakistan and a former United Nations expert on freedom of religion or belief. “Ms. Jahangir was an outspoken critic of the Pakistani government’s misuse of blasphemy laws, particularly targeting Ahmadis and Christians,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “She did this despite great risk to her own personal safety. She will always be remembered as a fearless advocate for human rights both in Pakistan and around the globe.”

Inventing Extremists: The Impact of Russian Anti-Extremism Policies on Freedom of Religion or Belief

This report examines Russian anti-extremist legislation, corresponding law enforcement practices, and their effects on freedom of religion or belief from 2011 to 2017. This research is focused on how the very regulations that ostensibly protect people and organizations in Russia from religious intolerance are instead used by authorities to sanction people and organizations for activity or speech based on their religious belief or lack thereof. 

Op-Ed: Another Missed Opportunity: Russia Evades Designation for Religious Repression

More than ever, USCIRF believes that the United States should take a stand for the religious minorities that Russia is oppressing in Russia, as well as in Crimea and the Russian-occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk. The commissioners strongly recommend that Russia be designated a Country of Particular Concern for its severe religious freedom violations, and that appropriate sanctions be imposed against the Russian Federation, including under the Magnitsky Act and the new provisions available in the Global Magnitsky Act.

USCIRF Welcomes Confirmation of New Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

“The Senate’s confirmation of a new ambassador today could not have come soon enough,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “We are witnessing immense challenges to religious freedom around the globe. We need to utilize every resource available to confront these challenges, including the office of the ambassador-at-large. USCIRF looks forward to working with Ambassador Brownback in advancing the U.S. government’s promotion of international religious freedom.”

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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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