US COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM (USCIRF)
USCIRF “was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress.“ (USCIRF Website, http://www.uscirf.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=337&Itemid=44#1, accessed on 28 April 2008)
US President, Secretary of State and Congress, American public; foreign governments.
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: Countries of particular concern to USCIRF are Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam; “Watch List Countries” (monitored more closely by USCIRF) are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq and Nigeria; other countries monitored by USCIRF include Laos, Georgia, India and Sri Lanka.
Thematic focus: Violations of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief, including violations such as torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; prolonged detention without charges; abduction, disappearance and detention of persons; or other serious denials of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.
USCIRF “reviews information on violations of religious freedom as presented in the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and its Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. The Commission also consults regularly with State Department and National Security Council officials, U.S. Ambassadors, and officials of foreign governments, as well as with representatives of religious communities and institutions, human rights groups, other non-governmental organizations, academics, and other policy experts. It visits foreign countries to examine religious freedom conditions firsthand.“ (USCIRF: Annual Report, May 2007, p. c13 http://www.uscirf.gov/images/AR_2007/annualreport2007.pdf, accessed on 28 April 2008)
In its reports, USCIRF describes “conditions for religious freedom and related human rights in the countries of central concern to the Commission and highlighting key findings“ and presents “policy recommendations“ (USCIRF: Annual Report, May 2007, p. 1, http://www.uscirf.gov/images/AR_2007/annualreport2007.pdf, accessed on 28 April 2008).
Annual Reports are published every year in May (covering the previous 12 months: May – April).
Policy Briefs are published sporadically.
English; some of the publications are available in other languages.
Navigation of website:
Home: Latest press releases; Key Links menu on right-hand side contains links to sections Countries of Particular Concern, Watch List Countries, USCIRF Annual Reports, USCIRF Policy Focus, USCIRF Newsletter and Materials in Other Languages.
Media Room contains Press Releases.
USCIRF Events: Hearings and press conferences; briefings, roundtables and speeches.
Countries & Issues: Countries of particular concern; watch list countries; information by region; information by issue; current annual report; annual report archive; policy briefs; current focus newsletter; focus newsletter archive; special reports.