Welcome to USCIRF

  • During the week of the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, USCIRF hosted two events. Click here for more.

  • The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) unanimously elected Dr. Tenzin Dorjee as its Chair and Kristina Arriaga and Gayle Manchin as its Vice Chairs. Read more here.

  • women religious freedom

    Read the May 2018 Policy Focus on Women and Religious Freedom here.

  • 2018 Annual Report

    On April 25, USCIRF released its 2018 Annual Report. Click here for the press release, or here to view the full report.

  • 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.

What's New at USCIRF

WASHINGTON, DC — Nadine Maenza, a commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), today announced her adoption of Raif Badawi, to advocate for his release, as part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience. read more
WASHINGTON, DC — Responding to the recent announcement by the governments of Burma and Bangladesh that repatriation efforts for Rohingya Muslim refugees will begin next month, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRFVice Chair Kristina Arriaga, who visited Burma last year, cited evidence of continued atrocities committed by the Buddhist-majority Burma as one of several reasons the announcement is premature. read more
WASHINGTON, DC — The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the decision by Pakistan’s Supreme Court to overturn the death sentence handed down in 2010 against Asia Bibi, a Roman Catholic mother of five. read more
WASHINGTON, DC — Tenzin Dorjee, Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), today expressed increasing concern over the mounting persecution of Baha’is in Yemen by the Houthi-controlled government.   read more
WASHINGTON, DC – On October 26th, Ireland will hold a referendum to decide whether to remove an antiquated provision from their constitution that requires blasphemy to be made a crime. Ireland is among 69 countries that currently have blasphemy laws, which range from obsolete to actively used with penalties that include death. Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, chair of the United States Commission on Religious Freedom (USCIRF), cites a recent charge of blasphemy in Spain​ as showing that even European democracies sometimes enforce these flawed laws. 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.
 

 

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.

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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.” 

KURDISTAN REGION OF IRAQ: New USCIRF Report on Religious Minorities in the KRI

USCIRF's new groundbreaking report, the first of its kind to involve in-person interviews with representatives of almost all religious minority groups in the KRI, notes that "the KRI remains far more welcoming and tolerant to minorities than its regional neighbors" and expresses hope that special effort will be taken to "preserve [the] freedoms and rights" of minorities.

Testimony of USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese, S.J., on "Freedom of Belief: Countering Religious Violence"

USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese, S.J. testified on May 24, 2017 before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at a hearing titled "Freedom of Belief: Countering Religious Violence."

Click here to read Chair Reese's written testimony.

Click here to read Chair Reese's oral testimony (below as prepared for delivery).

Click here to watch the hearing. 

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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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