Date: December 19, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC (December 19, 2019) A bill drafted and shepherded through Congress by Democratic and Republican members reauthorizes the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for an additional three years. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right, which successive U.S. administrations have raised and championed. USCIRF serves a critical role in defending and promoting the universal right to freedom of religion abroad by highlighting severe violations and making policy recommendations to address them to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
“We’re grateful for the strong bipartisan support USCIRF received from Congress, especially from the offices of Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Risch (R-ID), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), who were committed to hammering out a consensus bill that enhances USCIRF’s credibility and ensures the continuance of our important work,” said USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins. “At a time when freedom of religion is under assault worldwide, it’s encouraging that we all value the fundamental human right of allowing everyone, everywhere, to follow his or her conscience.”
USCIRF, which was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, is comprised of nine commissioners from both political parties, appointed by the President and the leadership of both the House and Senate, and a professional, non-partisan staff of 18. Under the new legislation, the agency will be reauthorized until September 30, 2022. Both the House and Senate have passed the bill, which now awaits the president’s signature.
“We’d also like to thank the NGO community and the International Religious Freedom Roundtable participants for supporting our reauthorization,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin. “Together, we will continue to raise awareness of the violators and victims of systematic, ongoing and egregious religious freedom violations around the globe and pressing for effective U.S. government action.”