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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • Mrs. Tran Thi Hong (Front row left), Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh (Front row center), and Commissioner Rev. Thomas J Reese (Front row right)

    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. 

  • A Right for All:  Freedom of Religion or Belief in ASEAN examines the religious freedom-related challenges in the region that transcend country borders and emphasizes the strategic important of robust U.S. engagement.

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:
Abdul Shakoor (Pakistan)
 
 
Click here for information on Abdul Shakoor and religious freedom conditions in Pakistan.
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.

Burma's Rohingyas

"The deprivation of [Rohingya Muslims’] rights—by both government and societal actors—is one of the most profound human rights tragedies of the 21st Century." USCIRF Report December 2016

Selected Blasphemy Cases

SELECTED BLASPHEMY CASES

Respecting Rights? Measuring the World’s Blasphemy Laws, a U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report, documents the 71 countries – ranging from Canada to Pakistan – that have blasphemy laws (as of June 2016). 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.

USCIRF Strongly Condemns Violence in Burma’s Rakhine State and Calls for Efforts to Protect Rohingya Muslims

USCIRF strongly condemns attacks on civilians and security forces in Burma’s Rakhine State.  Hundreds have been killed and approximately 300,000 Rohingya Muslims recently have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.  This number is expected to grow in the days and weeks ahead.  Burma’s security forces have razed entire villages, slaughtered families, and even placed landmines in the path of fleeing refugees, creating “a staggering humanitarian disaster,” according to USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark.

USCIRF Releases Report Measuring Blasphemy Laws’ Compliance with Human Rights

USCIRF released a report that shows how blasphemy laws around the world fall short of international human rights benchmarks. 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. USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark states that blasphemy laws “invite abuse and can lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks."

IRAN: Religious Prisoner of Conscience Maryam Naghash Zargaran Released

USCIRF welcomed the release of Iranian religious prisoner of conscience Maryam Naghash Zargaran. A Christian convert from Islam, Ms. Zargaran was sentenced in 2013 to four years’ imprisonment on charges of “propagating against the Islamic regime and collusion intended to harm national security.” Commissioner Clifford D. May: Maryam's case exemplified Iran's "flagrant disregard for 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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