Multi-faith Coalition Asks Congress for Three Things to Advance International Religious Freedom

9th February 2024, Washington DC

Jubilee Campaign joined the IRF Roundtable multi-faith coalition on Hill advocacy in lead up to the International Religious Freedom Summit, to advance freedom of thought, conscience religion or belief. 

In addition to inviting the congressional offices to attend the IRF Summit, the coalition shared three main asks: 

1. Reauthorise USCIRF

The United Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government agency created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). It is an important agency that has been able to document cases of religious prisoners of conscience and keep a spotlight on religious freedom violations.  USCIRF is able to make recommendations the State Department have resisted often due to geo-political reasons, such as recommending the designation of  Nigeria and India as a Countries of Particular Concern for their religious freedom violations. USCIRF is also able to conduct country visits and provide specific recommendations to address religious freedom violations with State and country representatives. USCIRF also provides widely-read reports regarding religious freedom violations in several countries.  Jubilee Campaign with partners have been able to provide country information on Nigeria, Algeria, Yemen and others.  USCIRF also does an important job in highlighting and advocating for the release of religious prisoners of conscience. 

The IRF Roundtable multi-faith coalition flagged the importance of USCIRF and requested congressional members ensure USCIRF is reauthorised early on and provided adequate funding through the appropriations process, otherwise they have to plan to shutdown their work in September 2024. There are two resolutions in the House and Senate [H.R. 7025 and S. 3764 calling for the reauthorisation of USCIRF, the passing of these resolutions together with securing a budget for USCIRF, are key to ensure USCIRF can confidently continue their work and plan future country visits. 

2. Fill the post of adviser on International Religious Freedom at the National Security Council (NSC)  

The position of the advisor was intended to assist the Ambassador-at-Large to coordinate IRF policies and strategies throughout the executive branch [USCIRF Factsheet: Key U.S. Government Positions Related to
International Religious Freedom]. The IRF Roundtable urged congressional members to ensure this position was filled and commended the last advisor who in her few months in office was able to accomplish much. 

3. Join the Defending Freedoms Project and advocate for a religious prisoner of conscience 

The IRF Roundtable multi-faith coalition also called on House members who are not members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to become one, and to join the Defending Freedoms Project  by committing to advocate for the release of a religious prisoner of conscience.  

Please find below the list of Religious Prisoners of Conscience the IRF Roundtable Congressional Working Group are advocating for, including Yemeni Christian Abdulbaqi Saeed Abdo.

Additional Asks

In addition to the three general calls for action, Jubilee Campaign and partners have been meeting with congress to raise specific countries and cases, including Nigeria and Algeria. 


Jubilee Campaign have been approaching congressional offices to garner more pressure on Algeria to reopen the churches they have sealed. The Algerian government has closed and threatened to close all the Evangelical Protestant Churches in Algeria and have been harassing church leaders. The State Department placed Algeria on the Special Watch List for two years in a row, unfortunately however, the situation has not improved.  The State Department must use these designations more proactively so countries know that their religious freedom violations have consequences  and that there are also pathways to get off the list. In the context of Algeria there are some absolute benchmarks that should be set up:

  •  Reauthorising the EPA – reopening the churches
  • Ceasing the harassment of church leaders
  • Allowing Bibles and other non-Muslim literature into the country 
H. Res 82 – Nigeria

Jubilee Campaign has been calling for cosponsors on this resolution. The resolution H. Res 82 calls on the State Department to designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern and for the President to appoint a Special Envoy on Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.  The resolution was called for a markup vote just one week after the IRF Summit advocacy specific to this resolution and Nigeria. There were two voted amendments, one which added mention of anti-blasphemy laws and reference H. Res 512, but the other also removed the call for the appointment of a Special Envoy. 


Congressional Advocacy Flier for Religious Prisoner of Conscience