UK bishops urge government to put money where mouth is on religious freedom

Desecrated church in Qaraqosh, Iraq (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Catholic bishops in England and Wales have urged the British government to ensure its foreign policy reflects its written pledges to defend religious freedom around the world. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales filed a submission to the House of Commons Inquiry promoting Human Rights around the world. . . . Read More

Myanmar: Peace talks resume but ethnic autonomy not on the agenda

Myanmar's defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves the 2016 Panglong Conference. (Photo: AUNG HTET/AFP/Getty Images)
A third round of peace talks are taking place in Myanmar this week between armed ethnic groups and government forces, but the military has ruled out discussions on the autonomy that ethnic groups crave. The six-day meeting, which has been dubbed the 21st century ‘Panglong Conference’ after the historic 1947 . . . Read More

North Korea tells US to drop ‘anachronistic human rights racket’

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North Korea has called on the United States to stop its “anachronistic human rights racket” as talks continue between the two countries, AP reports. The US House of Representatives recently promised that “complete, verifiable, and irreversible human rights improvements” in North Korea were a necessary part of any deal, while . . . Read More

Laos: Law on associations ‘skewed to target religious minorities’

Buddhists meeting in their temple in Laos are often exempt from meeting requirements under the Decree of Association. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
A law that came into effect in Laos last November “has already been skewed to target religious minorities, especially in rural areas”, according to Mission Network News (MNN). The Decree on Associations requires all groups, whether religious or otherwise, to acquire government approval for holding meetings and other activities. It . . . Read More

Kazakhstan: 69 punished for practising faith in first half of 2018

Inside an Orthodox Church in Almaty
Courts in Kazakhstan prosecuted at least 69 individuals, religious communities or organisations for religious activities in the first half of this year, according to Oslo-based news service Forum 18. Punishments included fines of up to four months’ average salary (US$1,400) and three-month bans on activities such as distributing religious literature or . . . Read More

Reconciliation with Ethiopia could improve human rights in Eritrea – UN rapporteur

Reconciliation with Ethiopia could improve human rights in Eritrea – UN rapporteur
As relations between Ethiopia and its neighbour Eritrea show signs of improvement, the UN’s rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea has called for the momentum to be used to improve human rights conditions in the country. “While peace is being negotiated, while rapprochement is happening, one would make sure that . . . Read More

Religious freedom ‘essential goal’ in normalising relations with Sudan – US commission

Religious freedom ‘essential goal’ in normalising relations with Sudan – US commission
A new report highlights the lack of religious freedom in Sudan and says improvements in this area remain “an essential goal” for the US before relations between the two countries can be fully normalised. A delegation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan advisory body, . . . Read More