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.

  • 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.

  • 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'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

USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark described Monson as “the embodiment of a lifelong commitment to the church’s mission. He strongly believed in religious freedom and actively traveled the world....His passing is a great loss for the LDS Church and all people of good will.” read more
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. read more
“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.  “USCIRF congratulates the White House, the State Department, and the Treasury Department for working together to implement this first set of sanctions.  Other countries are passing similar acts, and the United States should continue to be a leader in the fight against human rights abusers.” read more
The next year will be a pivotal one in Iraq. The U.S.-led fight against ISIS has yielded significant success. The military battle to defeat ISIS, a group which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson affirmed was “clearly responsible for genocide,” has come to an end. In September 2017, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) held its independence referendum, which passed with 92 percent voting in favor. The implications of the referendum for Iraq’s religious minority communities, especially those living under KRG-controlled areas or in the Disputed Internal Boundaries, remain unclear.  read more
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

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.

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.

Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and Mrs. Tran Thi Hong visit USCIRF

Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, recently released prisoner of conscience from Vietnam, Mrs. Tran Thi Hong, Pastor Chinh’s wife and member of Vietnamese Women for Human Rights, Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, CEO and President of Boat People SOS, and Amb. (ret.) Grover Joseph Rees visited USCIRF and met with Commissioner Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J.  to discuss Pastor Chinh's and Mrs. Hong's experiences in Vietnam. 

Press Release: USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga Testifies Before the House Oversight Committee

Kristina Arriaga, the Vice Chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), testified before the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Speaking on the “government’s role in protecting international religious freedom,” Arriaga advised the Members that “we ignore religious freedom violations at our peril and must address challenges proactively.”  

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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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