Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

Religious freedom report lacks specifics, experts say

ICC Note:

The State Department’s newly released annual report on religious freedom was just released. While comprehensive, the report fails to implicate key state perpetrators of persecution, including Vietnam and Pakistan.

by Adelle Banks

10/27/09 USA (RNS) Religious freedom experts called for more specifics in the State Department’s policies on international religious liberty, but welcomed a new report that highlights abuse faced by people of faith throughout the world.

Released by the State Department on Monday (Oct. 26), the status report on religious freedom in 198 countries and territories pays particular attention to authoritarian governments that control religious expression or are hostile to religious minorities.

”President Obama has raised religious freedom in his speeches abroad without those sentiments being translated into concrete policy actions,” said Leonard Leo, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, “and our hope is that this report will be the administration’s call to action.”

The independent commission also disagrees with the State Department on the status of religious freedom in some countries. In particular, the USCIRF has called for Pakistan and Vietnam to be added to the State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern.”

The State Department report notes that “serious” and “significant” problems remain in those countries. Michael Posner, assistant secretary for the department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, told reporters he hopes new the list of “countries of particular concern” will be made public by January.

The report notes that China’s “repression of religious freedom remained severe in Tibetan areas.” It also said: “Citizens do not have the ability to bring legal action based on the Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom.”

Religious freedom experts knocked Obama earlier this month (Oct.) for refusing to meet with the Dalai Lama, whom China considers a “splittist.” The White House said Obama will meet with the exiled Buddhist leader after he returns from a summit in China next month.

[See full story]