International Religious Freedom Report 2019
- 11 Jun 2020
- 4 min read
Why in News
Recently, the US State Department has released its annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report 2019, which is a survey of the state of religious freedom across the world.
- It published a report i.e. the country report for India to highlight the issue of religious freedom in the country.
- Earlier, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF report) downgraded India’s religious freedom to the lowest grade — in the ‘Country of Particular Concern (CPC)’ category.
- The IRF report listed countries for positive developments in religious freedom and negative examples.
- Nicaragua, Nigeria and China were cited as negative examples.
- It stated that in China, state-sponsored repression against all religions continues to intensify because of the Chinese Communist Party.
- India is not cited in either list.
- The Country Report for India:
- It highlighted the developments that took place in 2019 i.e. the status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- It discussed in detail about mob lynchings, anti-conversion laws, cow vigilantism and related issues.
- Taking note of the alleged attacks and discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities in India, the report emphasised the need to ensure full protection to minorities in the country as guaranteed under the Constitution.
- It also outlines the U.S. engagement with India on these issues.
- India's Stand:
- The Indian government has rejected the report by asserting that there is no locus standi for a foreign government to comment on the state of its citizens' constitutionally protected rights.
- It also emphasised that the report did not talk about the religious freedom given to various communities in India.
Freedom of Religion in India
- Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.
- Article 25 (Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion)
- Article 26 (Freedom to manage religious affairs)
- Article 27 (Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion).
- Article 28 (Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions)
- Further Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution deal with the protection of interest of minorities.
- Religious Freedom in the US:
- The US government has signed an executive order which included a move to formally prioritise religious freedom in the U.S. foreign policy.
- The order also directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to allocate $50 million in its yearly budget towards programmes that sought to promote religious freedom.
- Recently, the US faced domestic protests in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man at the hands of a white police officer.