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India Denied Visas to USCRIF
Mar 08, 2016

India has denied visas to a delegation from a U.S. government organization that monitors religious freedom around the world. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said that Indian authorities had failed to issue visas for the long-planned trip scheduled to begin on March 4.

  • A 3-member delegation of USCIRF wanted to make a one-week visit to meet with government officials, religious leaders and activists in India.

  • The USCIRF delegation had the support of the state department and the US embassy in New Delhi.

  • USCIRF's principal responsibilities include reviewing, through the lens of international human rights law, the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and making policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress.

  • USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission with commissioners appointed by the President and the leaders in both Houses of Congress.

USCIRF chairman Robert P. George said “We are deeply disappointed by the Indian government’s denial, in effect, of these visas. As a pluralistic, non-sectarian, and democratic state, and a close partner of the United States, India should have the confidence to allow our visit.”

The commission had been allowed into countries with far worse track records of religious tolerance, such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and Burma. One would expect that the Indian government would allow for more transparency than have these nations, and would welcome the opportunity to convey its views directly.

However, this is not the first time the USCIRF has been stymied by the Indian government, with a similar denial of visas in 2009.

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