Three million Uighur Muslims are estimated to be detained in Chinese concentration camps. Thousands of Yazidis, Christians, and others live on the edge of extinction in their ancient homelands in Iraq and Syria after the Islamic State’s genocidal rampage against them. Prisoners of conscience around the world are incarcerated for their beliefs, actions, or peaceful advocacy in support of their faith. The United States must continue and expand its work in support of religious freedom worldwide.
This is why it is so important that Congress reauthorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. Composed of expert commissioners and a dedicated professional staff, USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state, and Congress.
The commission has played a vital role in highlighting horrific abuses of religious freedom, helping to free religious prisoners of conscience, and supporting those around the world who suffer for their religion, beliefs, conscience, or peaceful actions in support of their faith. They incubated an international group of parliamentarians working on these efforts, 14 prisoners of conscience championed by USCIRF have been released, and in the past year alone released 20 reports — more than in any other year. This is in addition to a great deal of unity on the issues displayed by commissioners from across the political spectrum.