Welcome to USCIRF

  • Vice Chair Nadine Maenza and Commissioner Anurima Bhargava traveled to Iraq in late July to participate in a conference commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Yazidi genocide. Learn more here. (Here they are pictured with Khanim Latif, Iraq's Presidential Advisor on Women's Affairs.)

  • On Thursday, June 28, USCIRF held a hearing on religious freedom in Turkey. Learn more here.

  • On Friday, May 10, USCIRF Commissioners met with Vice President Pence and Ambassador Bolton to discuss findings and recommendations from the 2019 Annual Report.

  • On Monday, April 29, USCIRF released its 2019 Annual Report: Key Findings and Recommendations. Read more here.

  • USCIRF’s Survey of 2017-2018 Saudi Middle and High School Textbooks reviews 22 middle and high school textbooks published by the Saudi government for the 2017-2018 academic year. Click here for more.

What's New at USCIRF

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released a study conducted by Bauman Global on Shari’ah Criminal Law in Northern Nigeria. The report examines the laws and institutions in three northern states in Nigeria: Kano, Sokoto, and Zamfara, which are among 12 states where Islamic penal laws and criminal procedure codes are used. read more
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is deeply troubled by the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), originally introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah, in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament) given the religion criterion in the bill. The CAB will now move to the Rajya Sabha (Indian Parliament’s Upper House). If the CAB passes in both houses of parliament, the United States government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister and other principal leadership. read more
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released a report entitled “Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Hate Speech Laws in Africa: Implications for Freedom of Religion or Belief.” This report examines these speech restrictions and their impact on religious freedom across the African continent. read more
The freedoms of opinion and expression and of religion or belief are intricately intertwined—where violations occur against one, there are often violations against the other. Although these human rights are protected under articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), states around the world continue to pass and enforce laws that restrict both freedoms. This paper provides a survey and analysis of speech restrictions in Africa that have, or may, limit FoRB. Laws that restrict apostasy (the public renunciation of one’s religion), blasphemy (the insult of a religion or religious objects or places), and hate speech (generally encompassing communication that prejudices a particular group based on race, religion, ethnicity, or other factor) all limit freedom of expression. Such laws also have unique implications for citizens’ abilities to express and practice their faith. These laws are prevalent throughout Africa, where at least 9 countries have apostasy laws, at least 25 criminalize blasphemy, and at least 29 have laws against hate speech. read more
For 20 years, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has monitored and evaluated religious freedom conditions in Nigeria. This year also marks 20 years since Nigeria’s return to democracy and the adoption of the 1999 Constitution, which outlines the federal system of government and the hybrid application of religious, customary, and civil laws. The Constitution provides that states shall have High Courts, and may also have Shari’ah and Customary courts of appeal where required. During the same time period, 12 northern Nigerian states have also re-integrated Islamic criminal law in various ways. While the Shari’ah laws are based on long-standing practices, receive widespread support from Muslims, and apply only to Muslims, state enforcement of religious laws presents serious challenges to fully respecting freedom of religion or belief.     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.
 

USCIRF Religious Prisoners of Conscience

 

 

 

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Recent Publications

A Survey of 2017-2018 Saudi Middle and High School Textbooks catalogs the offending laws found in a wide range of countries. This follow-on contracted study reviews 22 middle and high school textbooks published by the Saudi government for the 2017-2018 academic year, including the 12 high school books previously reviewed by USCIRF in its May 2018 Special Report.

Central Nigeria: Overcoming Dangerous Speech and Endemic Religious Divides examines how dangerous speech and polarizing narratives in Nigeria have fueled violence, discrimination and segregation between Muslims and Christians for decades, particularly in central Nigeria, and how these dynamics have contributed to violence and religious freedom violations.

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USCIRF Highly Concerned by Latest Chinese Government Abuses Against Religious Communities

USCIRF is highly concerned by reports of Chinese authorities’ escalating religious freedom violations. On the same weekend as national media in the United States revealed the horrific detention of countless Uighur Muslims in extra-judicial “re-education camps,” the Chinese government also reportedly raided and shut down Zion Church in Beijing.

La Comisión de los Estados Unidos para la Libertad Religiosa Internacional Condena la Violencia y Represión de las Autoridades Nicaragüenses Contra Entidades Religiosas

WASHINGTON, DC – La Comisión de los Estados Unidos para la Libertad Religiosa Internacional (USCIRF) condena enérgicamente la violencia dirigida en contra de líderes y ministerios religiosos. Desde el mes de abril, durante protestas a favor de la democracia, más de 300 personas han sido asesinadas y muchos más heridos, incluyendo líderes de organizaciones religiosas.

USCIRF Condemns Violence Against Religious Ministries in Nicaragua

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns increasing violence directed particularly at religious leaders and ministries by the Nicaraguan government and its supporters. Since pro-democracy demonstrations began in April, more than 300 people have been killed and many more injured, including leaders of faith-based organizations.

At Gathering of 37,000 Ahmadi Muslims, USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore Vows to Make Religious Freedom in Pakistan a Priority

WASHINGTON, DC - Commissioner Johnnie Moore, of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), promised to make religious freedom in Pakistan a priority at this week’s gathering of nearly 37,000 Ahmadis at the 52nd Annual Convention (Jalsa Salana) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the United Kingdom.

Pastor Andrew Brunson Returned to Turkish Prison

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today condemned a Turkish court’s decision to return Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American citizen and leader of a small Protestant Christian church, to prison to await a fourth hearing on October 12, 2018. Pastor Brunson has been unjustly detained in Turkey since October 7, 2016 on false terrorism and espionage related charges. USCIRF Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga attended today’s hearing in Aliaga, Turkey. USCIRF has condemned the charges against Pastor Brunson and has called for his immediate release.

USCIRF to Host Reception Celebrating 20th Anniversary of IRFA and a Grant Workshop During First-Ever Ministerial on International Religious Freedom

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) will host a reception at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on Wednesday, July 25, in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), announced USCIRF chair Dr. Tenzin Dorjee today. The reception at USIP will be held on July 25 from 5:00-7:00 p.m during the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. This is an invitation-only event. On Thursday, July 26, USCIRF will also host a grant workshop for civil society organizations.

USCIRF Condemns Terrorist Attack Against Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns Sunday’s terrorist attack that killed more than 20 people in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. This attack, for which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, targeted members of Afghanistan’s minority Hindu and Sikh communities, including Sikh candidate for parliament Awtar Singh Khalsa, who was killed in the attack.

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About the Commission

Who We Are

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion or belief.

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