International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report 2019 released
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – International organisations; Effect of Policies on India’s interests
- 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.
- 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:
- 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