Overview and Acknowledgements

Why and How the Reports are Prepared

The Department of State submits this annual report to the Congress in compliance with section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-292), as amended.  This report covers the period between January 1 and December 31, 2019.

U.S. embassies prepare the initial drafts of country chapters based on information from government officials, religious groups, nongovernmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, academics, media, and others.  The Office of International Religious Freedom, based in Washington, collaborates in collecting and analyzing additional information, drawing on its consultations with foreign government officials, domestic and foreign religious groups, domestic and foreign nongovernmental organizations, multilateral and other international and regional organizations, journalists, academic experts, community leaders, and other relevant U.S. government institutions.

The State Department’s guiding principle is to ensure that all relevant information is presented as objectively, thoroughly, and fairly as possible.  Motivations and accuracy of sources vary, however, and the Department of State is not in a position to verify independently all information contained in the reports.  To the extent possible, the reports use multiple sources to increase comprehensiveness and reduce potential for bias.  The views of any particular source are not necessarily those of the United States government.  The report is designed to spotlight examples of government and societal action that typify and illuminate issues reported in each country.  Specific inclusions or omissions should not be interpreted as a signal that a particular case is of greater or lesser importance to the U.S. government, or that a case is the only available example.  Rather, the goal is to shed light on the nature, scope, and severity of actions impacting religious freedom through illustrative examples.

Acknowledgements

This report reflects the efforts of hundreds of people in the Department of State and at U.S. missions abroad.  We thank the dedicated staff at our embassies and consulates for monitoring and promoting religious freedom, and for chronicling in detail the status of freedom of belief.  Many of them went to great lengths under difficult circumstances to acquire the information in this report.

The reports were produced under the direction of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, with guidance from Office of International Religious Freedom Director Dan Nadel and Deputy Directors Stacy Bernard Davis and Khashayar Ghashghai.

The editorial staff of the International Religious Freedom Report consists of the following:  Editor-in-Chief:  Robert W. Boehme;  Editors:  Cynthia H. Akuetteh, Victoria Alvarado, Brian Bachman, Jessica Brown, Maeve Dwyer, Lisa B. Gregory, David E. Henifin, James A. McVerry, Daniel Merrill, Carol Rodley, Vicente Valle, and David Winn; Office of International Religious Freedom staff:  James Alexander, Rory Anderson, Keith Andrews, Nida Ansari, Riley M. Barnes, Mollie Blum, Aaron Bruce, Andre Cadieux, Mariyam A. Cementwala, Howard Chyung, Warren Cofsky, Sean Comber, Gabriel del Bosque, Serena Doan, Nathan George, Benjamin Harbaugh, Cassandra Harris, Razi Hashmi, Gabriella Hensinger, Sameer Hossain, Sarah Krech, Samantha Libraty, Mariah J. Mercer, Leslie Moorman, Tina L. Mufford, Douglas Padgett, Kourtney Pompi, Carson Relitz Rocker, James Schaefer, Robin Schulman, Knox Thames, and Pauletta Walsh.  Special thanks to Technical Coordinator Geoffrey Palcher and to Selene Ko in the Office of the Legal Advisor.

In remembrance of our cherished friend and colleague, Daniel T. Fantozzi.

2019 Report on International Religious Freedom
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