Promoting the right of all people to worship as they choose is central to our national identity as Americans and a core objective of U.S. foreign policy. The right to believe in a religious creed or not, without fear of government interference, is essential to human dignity, robust civil society and sustainable democracy.
To further these principles, the United States annually compiles a report on respect for religious freedom in every country around the world. It documents the actions of both governments that repress spiritual expression by their citizens and those that respect it.
Our nation will continue to shine a spotlight on violations of religious freedom in Eritrea and around the world.
In its most recent findings, the U.S. State Department found that government officials worldwide often act with impunity while violating the religious rights of their countrymen. Religious freedom is also often impinged by the introduction of new restrictions, such as laws against perceived blasphemy and apostasy against mainstream faiths.
As in previous reports, the government of Eritrea's record on religious freedom remains extremely poor. It severely restricts the freedom of groups and individuals to practice their religion. Individuals have been harassed and detained, and there have been reports of forced recantations while imprisoned. Eritrean officials repeatedly impeded practice of religion and made no effort publicly or privately to advocate for change.
Speaking to reporters at the release of the report, Secretary of State John Kerry said religious freedom is a universal value. The freedom to profess and practice one’s faith, to believe or not believe, or to change one’s beliefs, that is a birthright of every human being.
Our nation will continue to shine a spotlight on violations of religious freedom in Eritrea and around the world, and will continue, as Secretary Kerry says, to promote this universal right as a moral and strategic imperative.