U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom may be shut down, human rights group concern

Published 13 December 2011
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is deeply concerned at the potential loss of a key mechanism in monitoring religious freedom worldwide, if the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is not reauthorized by Congress before its mandate expires on 16 December.

USCRIF is a nonpartisan federal body that reviews the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress. The Commission would have shut down on November 18, but a spending bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate on November 17 granted it a four-week reprieve, the third time such a measure has been approved since Senator Richard Durbin, Senate Majority Whip (Democrat), put a hold on its reauthorisation.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, "USCIRF has for more than a decade played an important role as a leading watchdog on religious freedom worldwide. Its closure would not only be a significant loss to the work of promoting religious freedom but also an indication to others that the US is less willing to treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves. More than that, USCIRF is a key mechanism within the broader US government framework for promoting religious freedom worldwide. For that reason, CSW calls on Congress not only to reauthorize USCIRF but to take up amendments to the International Religious Freedom Act -- offered earlier this year by Congressman Frank Wolf -- that would require the US State Department to give greater priority to promoting international religious freedom. Given the terrible fate of religious minorities the world over, we believe these steps are vital".

For further information visit www.csw.org.uk.


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