Welcome to USCIRF

  • During the week of the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, USCIRF is hosting 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

Andrew and Norine Brunson

WASHINGTON, DC -- The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today announced that Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine Brunson have boarded a plane to travel to the United States. read more
WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today welcomed with great satisfaction the decision by a Turkish court to release Pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest. Pastor Brunson was first detained on October 7, 2016, on false charges and served almost two years in prison before he was placed under house arrest on July 25, 2018. read more
I am writing you in my capacity as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). While I am fully aware this letter may never reach you, in the event that some word of it does, I want you to know that your case is not ignored by the international community. You are not forgotten. read more

Commissioners Maenza and Moore with CPVPV General President Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sanad

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a trip last week to Saudi Arabia, Commissioners Johnnie Moore and Nadine Maenza of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) met with government officials and had the first meeting ever granted between the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the “Religious Police”) and a U.S. delegation.     read more
Chair Tenzin Dorjee testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations on September 27, 2018. In his testimony, Chair Dorjee discussed USCIRF's Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. 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.

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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.

Country Update: Sudan - June 2018

A USCIRF delegation visited Khartoum and North Darfur states in May 2018 to learn about specific violations and barriers to religious freedom perpetrated both by state and non-state actors. The delegation met with a wide range of interlocutors, including Sudanese government officials, members of civil society, women’s rights activists, human rights defenders, religious leaders, representatives of religious minority communities, and journalists, among others. This report highlights information provided to USCIRF in four areas, including the supremacy of the government’s interpretation of Islam, state enforcement of this interpretation of Islam resulting in the violation of women’s rights, and oppression of Christians and other minority groups.

 

Dr. Tenzin Dorjee Unanimously Elected as Chair of Bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC – In an open vote, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today unanimously elected Dr. Tenzin Dorjee as its Chairman. Chairman Dorjee is an Associate Professor at the Department of Human Communication Studies, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). He is a prominent translator of Tibetan and Buddhist works and has been recognized with numerous honors for his scholarship and advocacy on behalf of the Tibetan community. He has traveled to Burma and Iraq to monitor religious freedom conditions and testified before the U.S. Congress on religious freedom conditions in Tibet and China.

Study Revealed Numerous Passages in Saudi Textbooks Advocating Intolerance and Violence

This report presents findings from a review of 12 Saudi high school textbooks for the current 2017-2018 academic school year. The books, numbering more than 2,000 pages and focusing only on religious subjects, are much more intolerant than the six religious books from 2012-2014 that were reviewed by USCIRF. Based on the books reviewed, it appears that they are even more intolerant than the 2011-2012 textbooks studied by the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD), which identified many intolerant passages. The 2017-2018 books are more akin to Saudi textbooks from the early years of the previous decade before the Saudi government promised to reform its curricula. The issues found in the books implicated religious freedom and other human rights.

CHINA: USCIRF Deeply Concerned About Increasing Repression of Uighur Muslims

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) denounces the Chinese government’s increasing crackdown on Uighur Muslims. The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where the majority of Uighurs reside, increasingly resembles a police state. The Chinese government’s pervasive policies and intrusive security controls deny Uighur Muslims’ basic civil liberties and human rights and interfere with the practice of their faith, including during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins May 15, 2018.

Turkey Postpones Hearing to July 18, Sends Pastor Andrew Brunson Back to Prison

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was deeply disappointed today by a Turkish court decision to once again postpone 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. Vice Chair Sandra Jolley attended today’s hearing in Aliaga and witnessed the nearly eleven hours of proceedings. USCIRF has condemned the charges against Pastor Brunson and called for his immediate release.

Gayle Conelly Manchin Appointed to USCIRF

WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) on April 19, 2018 appointed Gayle Conelly Manchin to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). “USCIRF welcomes the appointment of Gayle Manchin to the Commission, and we look forward to the work she will do in the years ahead on the pressing challenges to religious freedom around the globe,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “Given these challenges, it is critically important that Congress and the administration continue to make the necessary appointments to the Commission, thereby allowing us to continue to fulfill our mandate of advancing religious freedom through U.S. foreign policy.”

USCIRF Releases 2018 Annual Report, Recommends 16 Countries be Designated “Countries of Particular Concern”

Today the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2018 Annual Report, documenting religious freedom violations and progress in 28 countries during calendar year 2017 and making recommendations to the U.S. government.

“Sadly, religious freedom conditions deteriorated in many countries in 2017, often due to increasing authoritarianism or under the guise of countering terrorism,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “Yet there is also reason for optimism 20 years after the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act. The importance of this foundational right is appreciated more now than ever, and egregious violations are less likely to go unnoticed.”

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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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