International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report 2019 released

  • IASbaba
  • June 12, 2020
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International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report 2019 released

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – International organisations; Effect of Policies on India’s interests

In News:

  • Recently, the US State Department has released its annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report 2019. 
  • IRF is a survey of the state of religious freedom across the world.

Key takeaways 

  • It published the country report for India to highlight the issue of religious freedom in India.
  • Earlier, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF report) had downgraded India’s religious freedom to the lowest grade of ‘Country of Particular Concern (CPC)’ category.
  • The IRF report listed countries for positive developments in religious freedom and negative examples.
  • Negative examples:
    • Nicaragua
    • Nigeria 
    • China 
  • India is not included in either of the lists.
  • The Country Report for India:
    • It highlighted the developments that took place in 2019 – the status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
    • Mob lynchings, anti-conversion laws, cow vigilantism and related issues were also discussed.
    • The need to ensure full protection to minorities was emphasized. 
  • The Indian government has rejected the report by asserting that a foreign government did not have right 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.

Important value additions 

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
  • Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution deal with the protection of interest of minorities.

US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

  • It is a U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. 
  • USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President. 
  • Its principal responsibilities are:
    • Review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally
    • Make policy recommendations to the US President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress. 
  • It is authorized to travel on fact-finding missions to other countries and hold public hearings
  • It issues an annual report that includes policy recommendations to the U.S. government based on the report’s evaluation of the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations worldwide

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