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."
The Annual Report has historically covered a reporting period from July 1of one year through June 30 of the following year. The current Report, however, covers a six-month period from July 1, 2010, through December 31, 2010, because the Department of State is shifting to a calendar year reporting period.
How the Reports are Prepared
U.S. embassies prepare the initial drafts of the reports based on information gathering from a variety of sources, including government officials, religious leaders, nongovernmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, religious groups, and academics. U.S. foreign service officers regularly go to great lengths, under trying and sometimes dangerous conditions, to collect the information on which the reports are based.
The Office of International Religious Freedom collaborates in collecting and analyzing information for the country reports, drawing on its own consultations with foreign government officials, religious leaders, nongovernmental organizations, representatives from the UN and other international and regional organizations and institutions, journalists, academic experts, and other Department of State offices. The Department's guiding principle was to ensure that all relevant information was assessed as objectively, thoroughly, and fairly as possible.
How the Reports are Used
A wide range of U.S. government agencies and offices will use the report to shape policy; conduct diplomacy; and inform assistance, training, and other resource allocations. The Secretary of State will use the report to help determine which countries have engaged in or tolerated "particularly severe violations" religious freedom, otherwise known as countries of particular concern.
A Word on Definitions
When this report states that a government "generally respected" the right of religious freedom over the reporting period, it signifies that the government attempted to protect religious freedom in the fullest sense while recognizing that the protection and promotion of religious freedom is a dynamic endeavor. "Generally respected" is thus the highest level of respect for religious freedom assigned by this report.
This report covers reflects six months of dedicated effort by hundreds of foreign service and civil service officers in the Department of State and at 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 employees of the Office of International Religious Freedom within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, whose work made this report possible: Lauren Adams, Taimur Ahmed, Victoria Alvarado, Nida Ansari, Rafaan Anvari, Nasreen Badat, Judson Birdsall, Teresa Blank, M. A. Borst, Mark Carlson, Elise Carlson-Rainer, Sita Chakrawarti, Alexandra Choulenina, Kasey Clemans, Warren Cofsky, Abraham Contos, Heba Dafashy, Jessica Dancel, Stacy Bernard Davis, Doug Dearborn, Marisa Donelson, Malalai Farooqi, Amanda Fazzone, Yael Friedman, Elena Green, Victor Huser, Kari Johnstone, David Jones, Kimberly Jorgensen, Emilie Kao, Andrew Kloes, Brad Lange, Adela Levis, Amy Lillis, Elijah Logsdon, Ellen Magnarelli, Gwendolyn Mack, Joel Malkin, Darin McAnelly, Alexander McLaren, Joshua Mogil, Destini Mooney, Jeania Ree Moore, Joannella Morales, Greta Morris, Nigah Mughal, Joy Ohagwu, Cooper Reves, Bridget Rochester, Alisa Rogerson, Maggie Ryan, Sana Samnani, Rachel Sauer, Dustin Smith, Daniel Solomon, Landon Taylor, Kevin Walker, and Melissa Wohlgemuth. Special thanks also to Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Steve Eisenbraun, Jerry Hoganson, Mark Susser, and Sandy Murphy for their contributions to this report.
Finally, we would like to thank the following people for their help in creating the cover: Regina Cross, Dwight Hill, Nicole Scott, Tawanda Shannon, Rachel Polakoff, and the staff of the Office of Language Services.
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.
Forty-five years ago the nations of the world signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which codified in international law the right to religious freedom. The ICCPR affirmed that: "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching."
The cover presents that simple statement in the languages of a few of the countries that have signed the agreement. No matter what the language, the message is the same.
Photos courtesy of iStockphoto.