By BosNewsLife Americas Service
WASHINGTON, USA (BosNewsLife)– Rights activists say they are “deeply concerned” about plans to effectively close down the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) told BosNewsLife Friday, December 9 that it is “deeply concerned at the potential loss of a key mechanism in monitoring religious freedom worldwide” if the USCIRF is not reauthorized by Congress before its mandate expires on December 16.
USCRIF is a nonpartisan federal body that reviews facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.
The Commission would have shut down on November 18, but a spending bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate on November 17 granted it a four-week reprieve, the third time such a measure has been approved since Senator Majority Whip Richard Durbin hold up a new mandate.
“USCIRF has for more than a decade played an important role as a leading watchdog on religious freedom worldwide,” argued CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas.
The Commission, he said, “has for more than a decade played an important role as a leading watchdog on religious freedom worldwide. Its closure would not only be a significant loss to the work of promoting religious freedom but also an indication to others that the U.S. is less willing to treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves.”
He told BosNewsLife that CSW has urged Congress to “not only reauthorize USCIRF but to take up amendments to the International Religious Freedom Act — offered earlier this year by Congressman Frank Wolf — that would require the US State Department to give greater priority to promoting international religious freedom.”
Thomas added that “Given the terrible fate of religious minorities” including Christians “the world over, we believe these steps are vital”.