Welcome to USCIRF

  • U.S. Capitol Building

    On Wednesday, April 18, 2018 9:30 am – 1:00 pm at the Government Publishing Office, USCIRF hosted a summit commemorating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Click here for more details.

  • President Bush with Chinese human rights lawyer, Dr. Li Baiguang

    USCIRF mourns the sudden passing of Chinese human rights lawyer Dr. Li Baiguang (second from left), a devoted advocate for religious freedom who represented falsely accused Chinese pastors and others. The full USCIRF statement can be found here. The State Department statement can be found here

  • 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 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 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 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.

What's New at USCIRF

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was disappointed today by a Turkish court decision to continue proceedings in the case of Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American citizen and leader of a small Protestant Christian church who is facing up to 35 years imprisonment on false terrorism and espionage related charges. USCIRF has condemned the charges against Pastor Brunson and called for his immediate release. read more
In November 2017, USCIRF Commissioners and staff traveled to Burma (also known as Myanmar) to meet with government officials, civil society, and religious representatives in Rangoon, Mandalay, and Naypyidaw. In January 2018, USCIRF staff traveled to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to gather information on the situation of Rohingya Muslim refugees. This document provides an overview of what USCIRF learned during these visits about the religious freedom challenges Burma faces and violations specific to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State. read more
In a new study of select textbooks currently in use in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) uncovered content promoting violence and hatred toward religious minorities and others. While the Saudi government has been engaged in textbook reform for the last 15 years, the presence of these passages makes clear how little progress has been made and highlights an immediate need for the Saudi government to more seriously address this issue, as well as the exportation of these textbooks internationally, as a part of its ambitious reform process. read more
On April 18, 2018, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) hosted a summit commemorating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 in Washington D.C.  The summit included a plenary to discuss the “State of the Union” of international religious freedom followed by two panels featuring distinguished guests discussing strategies for achieving positive change for religious freedom and prisoners of conscience around the world. A link to the live Twitter recording of the event can be found here. read more

Pastor Andrew Brunson

Photo Credit: fpclw.org

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns a new indictment issued by Turkish prosecutors this week charging Pastor Andrew Brunson with “leadership in a terrorist organization” and seeking a possible life sentence in his case. Pastor Brunson is an American citizen and the leader of a small Protestant Christian church in the city of Izmir, Turkey, where he has served for over 22 years. He was detained on October 7, 2016 and accused by Turkish officials of membership in an armed terrorist organization, though official charges have not yet been released to the public.  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.

State Department Names the World’s Worst Violators of Religious Freedom

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.

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.  “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.”

Policy Update - Iraq Brief: Winter 2017

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. 

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.

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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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