International Religious Freedom Report 2008

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 2008 report covers the period from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008, 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, Nasreen Badat, Judson Birdsall, Mary Anne Borst, Randy Brandt, Natalia Buniewicz, Barbara Cates, Keeley Chorn, Warren Cofsky, A. Jack Croddy, Doug Dearborn, Daniel DeVougas, Lauren Diekman, Lauren Doll, Augustine Fahey, Carrie Flinchbaugh, Albert T. Gombis, Hakim Hasan, Nancy Hewett, Victor Huser, Emilie Kao, Justin Kern, Gwendolyn Mack, Safia Mohamoud, Joannella Morales, Fatema Munis, Aaron Pina, David Rodearmel, Abigail Skeans, Lauren Smith, H. Knox Thames, Alexandra Tovar, Gregory Trunz, Raizza Ty, and Jessica Vu. 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.

Released September 2008

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