Source description last updated: 15 November 2018
In brief: The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) as a bipartisan institution of the government of the United States of America monitoring the freedom of religion abroad.
Coverage on
Annual reports, policy briefs, special reports, factsheets.
Covered monthly on, for countries of priorities A-C, annual report also for D and E.
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF uses international standards to monitor violations of religious freedom or belief abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leaders of both political parties. The Commission’s work is supported by a professional, nonpartisan staff of regional subject matter experts. USCIRF is separate from the State Department, although the Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is a non-voting, ex officio Commissioner.” (USCIRF: Inventing Extremists, The Impact of Russian Anti-Extremism Policies on Freedom of Religion or Belief, January 2018)
US government funds. As for the fiscal years 1999 and 2000, $3,000,000 were appropriated to the USCIRF. (Government of the USA: International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, Sec. 205. Authorization of Appropriations, 27 October 1998, p. 14)
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: States designated as countries of concern by the USCIRF.
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 obtains information about violations of religious freedom abroad in multiple ways, including visiting selected countries in order to observe facts on the ground, meeting regularly with foreign officials, religious leaders and groups, victims of religious intolerance, and representatives of civil society, nongovernmental organizations, government agencies, and national and international organizations, and keeping abreast of credible news reports.” (USCIRF website: Frequently Asked Questions – How does USCIRF obtain information about violations of religious freedom abroad?, undated)
For instance, the report on Myanmar has been drafted as follows:
“In November 2017, USCIRF Commissioners and staff traveled to Burma (also known as Myanmar) to meet with government officials, civil society, and religious representatives in Rangoon, Mandalay, and Naypyidaw. In January 2018, USCIRF staff traveled to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to gather information on the situation of Rohingya Muslim refugees.” (USCIRF: Country Update: Burma, April 2018, p. 1)
For the country report on Sudan, “[…] USCIRF met with more than 35 Sudanese women, the Fiqh Council, the Ministry of Guidance and Endowments, and other male religious authorities, and gained more insight into the dominance of men in decision making in communities and the Islamic legal system.” (USCIRF, Country Update: Sudan, June 2018, p. 1)
Language(s) of publications:
Further reading / links:
USCIRF: Annual Report 2018, April 2018
Government of the United States of America: International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, 27 October 1998
Containing amendments to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998:
Government of the United States of America: Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, 16 December 2016
All links accessed 15 November 2018.