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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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.”

Open Letter from USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee to the Panchen Lama on His 29th Birthday (April 25, 2018)

Open Letter from USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee to the Panchen Lama on His 29th Birthday (April 25, 2018)

Washington, D.C. – 

Your Holiness Gedhun Choekyi Nyima:

Tashi Delek. With mixed feelings, I write you again, this year to wish you a happy and healthy 29th birthday. Unfortunately, you may never read this, but please know that all Commissioners on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Tibetans, and friends around the world are thinking of you on this special day.

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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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