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United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

  • 11 Dec 2019
  • 3 min read

Why in news

Recently, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has raised concern over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), 2019.

  • This concern is related to the provision of granting citizenship based on religion in CAB, 2019.
  • Earlier in August, 2019 USCIRF had also issued a statement against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and a mob lynching incident in Jharkhand.

Controversial Clause of CAB, 2019

  • In 2016, a Bill was introduced to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955. However, it lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
    • Subsequently, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is has been introduced in the Parliament in December 2019.
  • The 2019 amendment Bill provides for an exception for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with regard to qualification for citizenship.

USCIRF

  • It is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), 1998. It monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
  • USCIRF uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally, and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
  • USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leaders of both political parties.
    • Their work is supported by a professional, nonpartisan staff. USCIRF is separate from the State Department, although the Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is a non-voting ex officio Commissioner.
  • Its recommendations are not binding and acts only as a conscience-keeper for the two branches in the US government — the legislature and the executive.

International Religious Freedom report, 2019

  • USCIRF releases International Religious Freedom report annually. The Report consists of country-wise chapters.
  • The 2019 report on India discussed mob-related violence, religious conversion, the legal status of minorities and government policies.
  • It has placed India on its Tier 2 category for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).

Source: IE

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