Report: Incarceration of Prisoners of Conscience ‘Astonishingly Widespread’
Religion & Liberty Online

Report: Incarceration of Prisoners of Conscience ‘Astonishingly Widespread’

“By any measure, religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault since the release of our commission’s last Annual Report in 2015,” says the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). “From the plight of new and longstanding prisoners of conscience, to the dramatic rise in the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, to the continued acts of bigotry against Jews and Muslims in Europe, and to the other abuses detailed in this report, there was no shortage of attendant suffering worldwide.”

In the USIRF’s 2016 report, which the State Department released earlier today, the commission notes that the incarceration of prisoners of conscience “remains astonishingly widespread, occurring in country after country, and underscores the impact of the laws and policies that led to their imprisonment.”

The report highlights numerous examples of state-sponsored persecution of Christians, such as that occurring in the East African country of Eritrea:

In Eritrea, where 1,200 to 3,000 people are imprisoned on religious grounds, there reportedly were new arrests this past year. Religious prisoners routinely are sent to the harshest prisons and receive the cruelest punishments. In 2006, the government deposed Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Antonios, who protested government interference in his church’s affairs. Besides being stripped of his church position, he has been held incommunicado since 2007 and reportedly denied medical care.

Eritrea’s dictatorship controls the internal affairs of the state-registered Orthodox Christian and Muslim communities and also bans public activities of non-registered groups. Religious freedom conditions are grave especially for Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

You can read more from the report here.

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).