- Recently, the 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom (IRF) was released by the US Department of State.
- The document is distinct from the IRF report released by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
- USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity while the IRF is part of the US State Department. The former’s report holds a statutory obligation.
US Office of International Religious Freedom
- In 1998, the then-US President Bill Clinton signed the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA, 1998) into law.
- The Act led to the creation of the Office of International Religious Freedom headed by an Ambassador-at-Large within the State Department of the US government, and the establishment of a US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
- The US Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF) monitors religiously motivated abuses, harassment, and discrimination globally.
- Additionally, it recommends, develops and implements policies and programs to address the mentioned concerns.
- The IRF also mentions that it assists emerging democracies globally to implement freedom of religion and conscience.
- Further, identify and denounce regimes that persecute on the basis of religion and assist NGOs globally in promoting religious freedom.
Key Highlights of the Report
- India has seen an increase in attacks on people (due to religious intolerance) and places of worship.
- Attacks on members of religious minority communities, including killings, assaults, and intimidation, occurred throughout the year.
- These included incidents of ‘cow vigilantism’ against non-Hindus based on allegations of cow slaughter or trade in beef.
- The India segment also highlights anti-conversion laws in the country, noting that 28 states have these laws and arrests were made under them.
- It also notes that several State governments announced plans to introduce anti-conversion laws.
- Police arrested non-Hindus for making comments in the media or on social media that were considered offensive to Hindus or Hinduism.
- There have been attacks in Jammu and Kashmir targeting and killing civilians and migrants, including Hindu migrant workers from Bihar.
- As per reports, this caused extensive fear in the Hindu and Sikh communities, leading to an exodus of migrants from the area.
- Incidents of lynching of Muslims in Tripura, Rajasthan, and Jammu and Kashmir in 2021 are also mentioned.
- Foreign Contributions Regulations Act was used by the government to constrain the functioning of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
- The government claims that the Act is used to strengthen oversight and accountability of foreign NGOs.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT