Press Releases & Statements
WASHINGTON, DC (December 19, 2019) A bill drafted and shepherded through Congress by Democratic and Republican members reauthorizes the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for an additional three years. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right, which successive U.S. administrations have raised and championed. USCIRF serves a critical role in defending and promoting the universal right to freedom of religion abroad by highlighting severe violations and making policy recommendations to address them to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
WASHINGTON, DC (December 19, 2019) – Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) today announced the appointment of Rabbi Sharon A. Kleinbaum of New York replacing Andy Khawaja of California to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the introduction of the Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act (H.R. 5408), which calls on the President to take into account Russia’s religious freedom violations in Russia-occupied Crimea and Russia-controlled Donbas when determining “country of particular concern” (CPC) designation under the International Religious Freedom Act. The bill also urges the U.S. government to place visa sanctions on Russian officials responsible for these violations, along with their families.
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today expresses disappointment that the United Nations Security Council did not hold a special meeting specifically to address North Korea’s human rights and religious freedom record on International Human Rights Day (December 10) this year. Between 2014-2017, the Security Council had held special meetings on Human Rights Day focused on North Korea. On December 11, the Security Council did hold a meeting focused on North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear program.
WASHINGTON DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns Saudi Arabia’s intensified mistreatment of religious prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi. The Saudi government has moved Badawi to solitary confinement and he has declared a hunger strike in protest. This is Badawi’s second hunger strike since September 2019. Saudi Arabia arrested Badawi in 2012 on charges of “apostasy” and insulting Islam. USCIRF has advocated for Saudi Arabia to release him since 2013 and has recommended that Congress and the administration continue do the same in its 2019 annual report.
WASHINGTON, DC (December 13, 2019) – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns Egypt’s recent arrest of Coptic activist Ramy Kamel. Mr. Kamel is an activist and prominent member of the Maspero Youth Union, advocating for full civil rights for Egypt’s Coptic Christian community and documenting abuses against its members. On November 23, National Security Agency officers stormed his home; confiscated his mobile phone, laptop, and other belongings related to his advocacy work; and took him into custody. One day later, the Supreme State Security Prosecution announced a series of spurious charges against Mr. Kamel, including membership in a terrorist organization, spreading false information, and disturbing the public order.
WASHINGTON, DC—The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the Department of Treasury’s designation of senior Burmese military officials for sanctions under Executive Order 13818 and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, due to their individual roles in mass atrocities in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states. Designated individuals include Min Aung Hlaing, the Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military; Soe Win, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military; Than Oo, a leader of the 99th Light Infantry Division in Rakhine State; and Aung Aung, a leader of the 33rd Light Infantry Division in Rakhine State.
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.
12/9/19: USCIRF Raises Serious Concerns and Eyes Sanctions Recommendations for Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in India, Which Passed Lower House Today
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.
12/9/19: USCIRF Raises Alarm about Speech Laws that Restrict Religious Freedom in More than Half of African Countries
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.