Context: For the fourth consecutive year, the government has expressed outrage and rejected the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) latest report, calling it “biased and motivated”.
International Religious Freedom Report
- In its report released on Monday, the independent congressional body has called for India to be designated a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) for its “worsening” record on religious freedoms.
- The report has targeted the Indian government for “promoting and enforcing religiously discriminatory policies”, naming laws that deal with conversion, interfaith relationships, wearing the hijab and cow slaughter, as well as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.
- It has criticised the U.S. State Department for not having designated India as a CPC and has called for sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials.
- In the only such sanction imposed on India, the U.S. had, in 2005, revoked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s U.S. visa after a USCIRF recommendation on the 2002 Gujarat riots.
- The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government agency created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
- USCIRF monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) abroad.
- Makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. and tracks the implementation of these recommendations.
- USCIRF’s nine Commissioners are appointed by either the President or Congressional leaders of each political party, supported by a non-partisan professional staff.
- While USCIRF is independent of the State Department, the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is a non-voting member.