What's New at USCIRF
USCIRF 2016 Annual Report
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2016 Annual Report on May 2, 2016. In the report, USCIRF recommends that the State Department add these eight countries to its list of “countries of particular concern,” defined under law as countries where particularly severe violations of religious freedom are tolerated or perpetrated: Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Vietnam.
USCIRF also recommends that the following nine countries be re-designated as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
In addition, USCIRF also recommends ten countries as Tier 2 Countries, those countries whose governments engages in or tolerates at least one of the elements of the "systematic, ongoing, and egregious" standard, but do not fully meet the CPC standard: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey. Other Countries Monitored include: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Horn of Africa, Kyrgyzstan, Western Europe.
Barriers to Protection
USCIRF on August 2, 2016 released a new report, Barriers to Protection: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal, which highlights serious problems with the U.S. government's treatment of asylum seekers in Expedited Removal. View the report here. USCIRF presented findings from the report at an August 3, 2016 event with Human Rights First. Watch the event here.
USCIRF Issues Reports on Religious Freedom Violations in Burma
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released two reports highlighting Burma’s serious religious freedom challenges:
- Hidden Plight: Christian Minorities in Burma highlights the pervasive and longstanding persecution and discrimination Christians face that have persisted, often unreported, for generations. View the report here in English and Burmese.
- Suspended in Time: The Ongoing Persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Burma details the persecution of Rohingya Muslims resulting from government-directed abuses and/or government indifference to discrimination and violence that has killed hundreds, displaced thousands, and destroyed hundreds of religious properties since 2012. View the report here in English and Burmese.
USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese, S.J. testified on July 15, 2016 before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at a hearing titled "Blasphemy Laws and Censorship by States and Non-State Actors: Examining Global Threats to Freedom of Expression."
From the testimony:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Muslims around the world mark the end of Ramadan with Eid al-Fitr celebrations, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the Chinese government’s restrictions on Uighur and other Muslims’ religious practices. These restrictions are particularly egregious during this month-long period of introspection, fasting, prayer, and devotion.
Former USCIRF Chairman Dr. Robert P. George and former Vice Chair Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser testified on June 16, 2016 before the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a hearing titled "The Global Religious Freedom Crisis and Its Challenge to U.S. Foreign Policy."
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom welcomes the appointment of two Commissioners. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) on May 13, 2016 announced the reappointment of Daniel I. Mark and the appointment of Kristina Arriaga.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama on May 12, 2016 announced his intent to reappoint Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J. and appoint Dr. John Ruskay to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
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…