2023 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom

About This Report 2023 Report on International Religious Freedom

Created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, as amended (IRFA), USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. government advisory body, separate from the State Department, that monitors and reports on religious freedom abroad and makes policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state, and Congress.

USCIRF bases these recommendations on the provisions of its authorizing legislation and the standards in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international documents. USCIRF’s mandate and annual reports are different from, and complementary to, the mandate and annual reports of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.

USCIRF’s 2023 Annual Report assesses religious freedom violations and progress in 28 countries during the calendar year 2022 and makes independent recommendations for U.S. policy. The key findings, recommendations, and analysis in this report are based briefings, and are approved by a majority vote of Commissioners. Under the statute, each Commissioner has the option to include a statement with his or her own individual views.

The report’s primary focus is on two groups of countries: first, those that USCIRF recommends the State Department should designate as CPCs under IRFA, and second, those that USCIRF recommends the State Department should place on its SWL. The report also includes USCIRF’s recommendations of nonstate actors for designation by the State Department as Entities of Particular Concern (EPCs) under IRFA. In addition, the report analyzes the U.S. government’s implementation of IRFA during the reporting year and provides recommendations to bolster overall U.S. efforts to advance freedom of religion or belief abroad. It also includes a section discussing key trends and developments in religious freedom globally during the reporting period, including in countries that are not recommended for CPC or SWL status. 

This year, that section covers topics including transnational repression and influence by religious freedom violators, religious freedom concerns in Europe, laws restricting religious freedom, emerging religious freedom concerns in other countries, positive developments in combating antisemitism, and religious freedom concerns for indigenous peoples in Latin America. Finally, the report’s last section highlights key USCIRF recommendations that the U.S. government has implemented since USCIRF’s previous annual report.

In this report, USCIRF uses the terms “religious freedom,” “freedom of religion,” and “freedom of religion or belief” interchangeably to refer to the broad right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief—including the right to nonbelief—protected under international human rights law.

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