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Shelby Friedman

Each year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal government commission, publishes a report detailing the state of religious freedom around the world and highlighting particularly egregious violations. This year’s report, released in late April, drew special attention to the ongoing plight of prisoners of conscience – individuals who are imprisoned because of their religious beliefs – and the uniquely vulnerable position of refugees and asylum seekers, especially those fleeing religious persecution.

The universal human right to freedom of...

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Each June, we observe Pride Month and take time to celebrate the many important victories won for LGBTQ people in the United States. We also reflect on the long road to winning those battles, and the ongoing fights for nationwide employment protection, discrimination protection in public accommodations, and full equality for transgender people.

However, as we strive for the more complete inclusion of LGBTQ people in American society, we must also remember equality for all is not limited by borders. Like the United States, other countries have also reached important milestones for...

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On April 25, Representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania introduced a resolution, H. Res. 276, to support education about the Holocaust in public schools across the country. Eight states already have laws on the books that mandate Holocaust education in public schools: Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Rhode Island, Michigan and Indiana. Several other states have laws that encourage its public schools to include the Holocaust in their curricula. Individual state governments determine what public schools teach; therefore, this legislation in the U.S. House of...

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On May 17, the House of Representatives passed the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (H.R. 1677) on a voice vote. If enacted, this bill would provide for the future investigation into possible war crimes committed in the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011 and has caused over five million refugees to flee the country, making Syria the world’s largest source of refugees. Under the bill, individuals found guilty of war crimes could face sanctions, and evidence may be collected for the future prosecution of foreign governments or organizations who committed such crimes. The bill is named...

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Due to a deadly combination of war and drought, almost 20 million people in four countries have been facing the possibility of devastating famines in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and northern Nigeria. Famines are unusual, with specific metrics defining the threshold for an official famine to be declared. The last time a famine was declared was in 2011 in Somalia, an incident in which 260,000 people died. In that crisis, similarly to the one facing four the African and Middle Eastern nations today, drought led to poor harvests, which in turn drove up the costs of food. In the 2011 famine,...

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