EPCs and Religious Freedom Factsheet

Some of the gravest threats to FoRB in recent years have come not from government actions, but from non-state actors. In recognition of this threat, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2016, which amended the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998, created a new presidential designation for EPCs, for non-state actors that engage in particularly severe violations of religious freedom and meet certain other criteria. This factsheet explores the international standards that impose human rights obligations on EPCs and other armed non-state actors to respect FoRB. It also considers the responsibilities of EPCs to protect religious communities under international humanitarian and criminal law. A better understanding of the international law principles on the responsibilities of EPCs can help the U.S. government and international partners better respond to violations perpetrated by EPCs, promote the necessity of the protection of religious freedom by non-state actors, and ensure accountability for violations committed by these groups.

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