USCIRF Commissioner Fr. Thomas J. Reese testifies before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on preventing mass atrocities.
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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.
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USCIRF Focus: Blasphemy Laws
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.
More than ever, USCIRF believes that the United States should take a stand for the religious minorities that Russia is oppressing in Russia, as well as in Crimea and the Russian-occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk. The commissioners strongly recommend that Russia be designated a Country of Particular Concern for its severe religious freedom violations, and that appropriate sanctions be imposed against the Russian Federation, including under the Magnitsky Act and the new provisions available in the Global Magnitsky Act.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the death sentence handed down to Hamed bin Haydara by a Houthi court in Yemen. Mr. bin Haydara was targeted soley beause of his religious beliefs. USCIRF calls for his sentence to be lifted and for Mr. bin Haydara to be released and all charges dropped.
“The Senate’s confirmation of a new ambassador today could not have come soon enough,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “We are witnessing immense challenges to religious freedom around the globe. We need to utilize every resource available to confront these challenges, including the office of the ambassador-at-large. USCIRF looks forward to working with Ambassador Brownback in advancing the U.S. government’s promotion of international religious freedom.”
"For most pastors, the beginning of a new year is filled with the promise of youth programs, baptisms, and marriages. Instead, Pastor Andrew Brunson — Presbyterian cleric in Turkey, American citizen, and pawn in an international game of hostage diplomacy — is spending it in a Turkish jail."
USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark described Monson as “the embodiment of a lifelong commitment to the church’s mission. He strongly believed in religious freedom and actively traveled the world....His passing is a great loss for the LDS Church and all people of good will.”
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.
“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. “USCIRF congratulates the White House, the State Department, and the Treasury Department for working together to implement this first set of sanctions. Other countries are passing similar acts, and the United States should continue to be a leader in the fight against human rights abusers.”
The next year will be a pivotal one in Iraq. The U.S.-led fight against ISIS has yielded significant success. The military battle to defeat ISIS, a group which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson affirmed was “clearly responsible for genocide,” has come to an end. In September 2017, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) held its independence referendum, which passed with 92 percent voting in favor. The implications of the referendum for Iraq’s religious minority communities, especially those living under KRG-controlled areas or in the Disputed Internal Boundaries, remain unclear.
Throughout 2017, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has promoted its 50th year of existence, marked on August 8. The regional bloc comprising 10 countries has grown and integrated in ways hardly dreamed of five decades ago. But to this day, ASEAN lacks cohesion on human rights issues and, in particular, has a flawed record protecting freedom of religion or belief, both as a collective regional bloc and as individual Member States. The good news is that ASEAN possesses both the raw materials and the incentive to turn its record around.
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…