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Religious Freedom: Where It Stands

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom published its annual report May 12 amid little media attention. The commission was established in 1998 to monitor religious freedom and to advise the president, secretary of state, and Congress on how best to promote it.

The timing of this year’s report might strike some as inauspicious. In the wake of revelations about abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, many have criticized the pretension of the United States to portray itself as a defender of human rights. But the most obvious alternative, the United Nations, has also drawn fire for its inconsistencies.

During this year’s meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, for instance, China, Russia and Zimbabwe escaped any censure, Reuters reported April 15. And a U.N. press release announced May 4 that among the countries elected by the U.N. Economic and Social Council to serve on the Commission on Human Rights was Sudan, a country singled out by independent watchdog groups as responsible for grievous rights violations.

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