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Diplomacy in Action

Preface


Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report
October 26, 2009

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Why the Reports are Prepared

The Department of State submits this report to the Congress in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. The law provides that the Secretary of State, with the assistance of the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, shall transmit to Congress "an Annual Report on International Religious Freedom supplementing the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom."

How the Reports are Prepared

U.S. embassies prepare the initial drafts of these reports, gathering information from a variety of sources, including government and religious officials, nongovernmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, religious groups, and academics. This information gathering can be hazardous, and U.S. Foreign Service Officers regularly go to great lengths, under trying and sometimes dangerous conditions, to investigate reports of human rights abuse, to monitor elections, and to come to the aid of individuals at risk because of their religious beliefs.

The Office of International Religious Freedom collaborated in collecting and analyzing information for the country reports, drawing on the expertise of other Department of State offices, religious organizations, other non-governmental organizations, foreign government officials, representatives from the United Nations and other international and regional organizations and institutions, and experts from academia and the media. In compiling and editing the country reports, the Office of International Religious Freedom consulted with experts on issues of religious discrimination and persecution, religious leaders from a wide variety of faiths, and experts on legal matters. The office's guiding principle was to ensure that all relevant information was assessed as objectively, thoroughly, and fairly as possible.

A wide range of U.S. government departments, agencies, and offices will use the report to shape policy; conduct diplomacy; inform assistance, training, and other resource allocations; and help determine which countries have engaged in or tolerated "particularly severe violations" of religious freedom, otherwise known as Countries of Particular Concern.

A Word on Usage

When this report states that a government "generally respected" the right of religious freedom over the reporting period, this phrase signifies that the government attempted to protect religious freedom in the fullest sense. "Generally respected" is thus the highest level of respect for religious freedom assigned by this report. The phrase "generally respected" is used because the protection and promotion of religious freedom is a dynamic endeavor; it cannot be stated categorically that any government fully respected this right over the reporting year, even in the best of circumstances.

Acknowledgements

The 2009 report covers the period from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, and reflects a year of dedicated effort by hundreds of Foreign Service and Civil Service Officers in the Department of State and U.S. missions abroad. We thank the many Foreign Service Officers at our embassies and consulates abroad for monitoring and promoting religious freedom, and for chronicling in detail the status of religious liberty. In addition to their efforts, we acknowledge the diligent labor and tireless commitment to religious freedom of those within the Office of International Religious Freedom whose work made this report possible: Clarissa Adamson, Ali Aghaebrahim, Sylvia Ayub, Nasreen Badat, Judson Birdsall, M. A. Borst, Alexandra Brewer, Mark Carlson, Barbara Cates, Warren Cofsky, Courtney Cook, Graham Couturier, Kate Dailey, Doug Dearborn, Kurt Donnelly, Brian Fabbi, Augustine Fahey, Nathan Godsey, A. T. Gombis, Nancy Hewett, Olivia Hilton, Nathan Hitchen, Victor Huser, Alicia Juskewycz, Emilie Kao, Justin Kern, Sarah Kim, Peter Kovach, Gwendolyn Mack, Safia Mohamoud, Fidel Mahangel, Alexander McLaren, Joannella Morales, Sarah Nelson, Aaron Pina, David Rodearmel, Lana Salih, Tarika Sethi, Andrea Sidari, Lauren Smith, and Abdelnour Zaiback. The work of all of these individuals advances the cause of freedom, ensures accuracy in our reporting, and brings hope to repressed people around the world.


Cover Photo Credits

All cover images are copyright AP Photos.

Members of the Jewish priestly caste wear prayer shawls as they perform the tri-annual blessing of the Jewish people by the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, 1996. (AP PHOTO/Eyal Warshavsky)

A Palestinian Muslim worshipper prays inside the Dome of the Rock Mosque during the second Friday prayers of the holy fasting month of Ramadan 2007. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

South Africa's Soweto Gospel Choir, performs in Johannesburg, South Africa, 2007. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

A woman prays in the St. Peter's church in Wadowice, southern Poland, 2005. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

A Hindu child makes offerings during the Hindu festival of Deepavali at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2006. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

A Muslim offers a prayer outside a mosque during the fasting month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur, 2002. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

A young Thai novice Buddhist monk lights a candle in Bangkok, Thailand, 2005. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

A man offers prayers at the Peace Park before the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing in Nagasaki, southwestern Japan 2005. (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)

A nun of Missionaries of Charity prays beside the tomb of Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India, 2003. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

Released by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Rights and Labor, Office of International Religious Freedom in coordination with the Bureau of Public Affairs, October 2009



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