Citizenship and Related Issues

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Issues over citizenship amendment bill

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said it was “deeply troubled” by the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

US Commission on International Religious Freedom

  • The USCIRF is an advisory or a consultative body, which advises the US Congress and the administration on issues pertaining to international religious freedom.
  • It describes itself as an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission that was created by The International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
  • The broad-based coalition that advocated strongly for IRFA’s enactment sought to elevate the fundamental human right of religious freedom as a central component of US foreign policy.
  • In practice, the USCIRF has little teeth in implementation, but acts as a conscience-keeper for the two branches in the US government — the legislature and the executive.
  • It often takes maximalist or extreme positions, and has been used by civil society groups to put pressure on US Congress members and administration officials.

What is IRFA?

  • The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 was passed by the 105th US Congress (1997-99) and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton on October 27, 1998.
  • It is a statement of the US’s concern over violations of religious freedoms overseas.
  • The act expresses a part of the US foreign policy with respect to individuals persecuted in foreign countries on account of religion,

What does the USCIRF do?

  • The USCIRF is mandated by US statute to “monitor the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad — ironically not in the US.
  • It makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress.

How does USCIRF define “freedom of religion or belief abroad”?

  • The Commission say- Religious freedom is an important human right recognized in international law and treaties.
  • The freedom of religion or belief is an expansive right that includes the freedoms of thought and conscience, and is intertwined with the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.

Why hues across the globe?

  • it runs counter to India’s rich history of secular pluralism and the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law regardless of faith.
  • In conjunction with the ongoing NRC process it is feared that Indian is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims.
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