Welcome to USCIRF

  • 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.

  • 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.

What's New at USCIRF

Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in Washington D.C. on April 18, 2018, for a summit commemorating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The summit will include 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. 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
Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for a briefing on Capitol Hill on the synergies and opportunities for defending and promoting women's right to equality and international religious freedom. This briefing will take place on Friday, March 16, from 9:30 - 10:30 AM in room 2400 of the Rayburn House Office Building. read more

Photo credit Hong Kong Free Press 

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) mourns the sudden passing of Chinese human rights lawyer Dr. Li Baiguang, a devoted advocate for religious freedom who represented falsely accused Chinese pastors and others targeted for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.    read more
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is concerned by recent reports that roughly 100 members of Iranian religious minorities, who sought resettlement to the United States, have been denied asylum and could be returned to Iran where they may face discrimination and persecution.The refugees, most of whom are reported to be Assyrian or Armenian Christians, were seeking refuge in the United States under the Lautenberg Amendment. The Lautenberg Amendment, enacted in 1990, was expanded in 2004 to allow members of Iranian religious minorities, including Christians, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and others, to apply for refugee status under a special category in recognition of their status as persecuted minorities. 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.

Open Letter from USCIRF Vice Chair Sandra Jolley to Gulmira Imin on the 8th Anniversary of Her Arrest

Dear Gulmira:I write to you as July 14th comes to an end.  On that day eight years ago, as you know all too well, Chinese government officials arrested you.  While this open letter may never reach you, I want you to know that as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, I am ardently advocating on your behalf.

Testimony of Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee on "Tibet: Freedom of Religion"

In his testimony Commissioner Dorjee discussed his personal story of fleeing Tibet and the Chinese government's repression of Tibetan Buddhists, including the demolition of the Larung Gar Buddhist academy and the detention of religious prisoners of conscience. Commissioner Dorjee also provided recommendations to the U.S. Congress and Administration. 

SUDAN: USCIRF Urges Secretary of State to Maintain Sanctions

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a May 30 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on him to “take steps to address severe violations of religious freedom and other human rights” in Sudan.  In the letter, USCIRF called on Secretary Tillerson to maintain existing sanctions on the Sudanese government due to deteriorating religious freedom conditions.

USCIRF Elects Daniel Mark as Commission Chairman; Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga as Vice Chairs

At its June 13 meeting, USCIRF commissioners elected Daniel Mark as the Commission’s new chairman.  Dr. Mark is an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and battalion professor for Villanova’s Navy ROTC unit. In response to his election, Chairman Mark said, “I am greatly honored by the confidence shown in me by my fellow commissioners. I look forward to enhancing USCIRF’s role and voice in monitoring violations and recommending ways U.S. policy can play an even stronger role.” 


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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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