On July 30, 2012, the Office of International Religious Freedom within the U.S. State Department released its annual report on the status and trends of religious freedom abroad. While documenting numerous violations of religious freedom and a deteriorating human rights situation in many countries in 2011, the report also notes that “countries whose constitution, laws, policies, and practices protect religious freedom and human rights will be the most vibrant and stable.”

The Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook, gave a press conference at the State Department on the release of the report. Amb. Cook remarked that:

“Freedom of religion is not just an American right but the right of all people. It goes hand in hand with freedom of expression, freedom of speech and assembly, and when religious freedom is restricted, all these rights are at risk. And for this reason, religious freedom is often the bellwether for other human rights. It’s the canary in the coalmine.”

In sections of the Report on “Improvements and Positive Developments in Respect for Religious Freedom,” IGE is lauded for its work with the Lao and Vietnamese governments on conferences and training seminars.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also offered extensive remarks about the importance of international religious freedom at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. IGE President Chris Seiple commented that, “Secretary Clinton’s address is one of the most significant U.S. government statements on this issue since the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.”

To watch Sec. Clinton’s address or read the transcript, click here.

To watch Amb. Cook’s press conferences or read the transcript, click here.

To read the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report, click here.