The State Department’s seventh
annual International Religious Freedom Report, which looks
at the state of religious freedom in 197 countries and territories
around the world, was submitted to Congress on November 8
by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Rice at the State Department in Washington,
November 8. (State Dept. photo - Janine
“Through this report, through our
bilateral relationships and through our ongoing discussions
with communities of faith around the world, America will
defend the rights of people everywhere to believe and worship
according to their own conscience,” Rice said.
The annual report to Congress is mandated
by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
The 2005 report redesignates Burma, China,
Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam
as "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPC) for
especially severe violations of religious freedom. The same
countries were listed as CPCs in the 2004 report.
Rice said that Vietnam, although designated
as a CPC, has made significant improvements in 2005.
“If Vietnam’s record of improvement
continues,” Rice said, “it would enable us to
eventually remove Vietnam from our list of ‘Countries
of Particular Concern.’”
text of the report is available on the State Department
Following is the transcript of the Rice’s
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
November 8, 2005
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
On the Department of State's Annual Report
On International Religious Freedom
November 8, 2005
(2:23 p.m. EST)
SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. Hi there,
how are you? Today, I have transmitted to Congress the 7th
Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. Religious
freedom is a constitutional right for Americans. It is also
a universal human right, enshrined time and again in international
law and declarations.
Our goal is to promote the fundamental right
of religious freedom as a part of what President Bush calls
"our agenda for a freer world, where people can live
and worship and raise their children as they choose."
Preparation of this report, which will be
available on the State Department's website, is an intensive,
year-long effort led by Ambassador John Hanford and involving
a wide cross-section of our Department, including our Office
of International Religious Freedom, our regional bureaus
and our many embassies abroad.
Production of the report is greatly assisted
by the dedication and close collaboration of nongovernmental
organizations and individuals around the world who are committed
to documenting the status of religious freedom, often at
risk to their own lives and their liberty.
The 2005 report covers 197 countries and
territories. In some countries, we find that governments
have modified laws and policies, improved enforcement or
taken other concrete steps to increase and demonstrate respect
for religious freedom. In far too many countries, however,
governments still fail to safeguard religious freedom. Across
the globe, people are still persecuted or killed for practicing
their religion or even for just being believers.
This year, we have re-designated eight "Countries
of Particular Concern" -- Burma, China, the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia,
Sudan and Vietnam. These are countries where governments
have engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations
of religious freedom over the past year. We are committed
to seeking improvements in each of these countries, improvements
like those we have actually seen in Vietnam, which have
been further advanced by agreement on religious freedom
that our governments signed just this last May.
If Vietnam's record of improvement continues,
it would enable us to eventually remove Vietnam from our
list of "Countries of Particular Concern." Through
this report, through our bilateral relationships and through
our ongoing discussions with communities of faith around
the world, America will defend the rights of people everywhere
to believe and worship according to their own conscience.
As President Bush has said, "Freedom of religion is
the first freedom of the human soul. We must stand for that
freedom in our country. We must speak for that freedom in
It is now my pleasure to introduce Ambassador
Hanford, who stands at the forefront of the Department's
work to promote our religious freedom agenda. He has worked
tirelessly on this report and works tirelessly throughout
the year in bilateral and other discussions with countries
to raise awareness of this issue and to help us make progress.
And he's going to provide additional details about the report
and he will take your questions.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as the National
Security Advisor, did you know about secret CIA prisons?
SECRETARY RICE: Saul, the President made
very clear the other day, yesterday, that the first obligation
of the President of the United States and those who work
with him is to protect this country, protect against the
kind of terrible attack that we experienced on September
11th. Now, we do that within the constraints of our law,
within the constraints of our Constitution and indeed cognizant
of our values. And that is what we have done and that is
what we will continue to do.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary just if I could
just follow up on that, please? It is very laudable that
the United States is talking about morality and religious
freedom around the world, but is that not a bit inconsistent
when you won't even talk about this issue of secret prisons
that has provoked such concern all over the world?
SECRETARY RICE: The United States has stood
for the values of human decency, of a government that respects
the religious freedoms of its people, that respects the
individual rights of its people for its entire history.
And I think the United States has an exemplary and exceptional
record of having defended these rights. I think if you talk
to people in the former Soviet Union, for instance, about
how they were able to eventually put enough pressure on
a regime that had 30,000 nuclear weapons and five million
men under arms, they will talk about the triumph of values
and they will credit, as people like Nathan Sharansky have,
the United States' steadfast concern for and promotion of
those values as having helped Russia become a place, which
is not perfect on these measures, but which is far different
than the Soviet Union. So the United States has held for
And let me just be very clear, we hold for
those values today as strong as we ever have. We are in
a different kind of war, where people who know no boundaries,
know no treaties, know no borders or territories are assaulting
these values, are assaulting free peoples, are killing innocents
on a wanton scale. And of course, we, our allies, others
who have experienced attacks have to find a way to protect
But I want to be very clear, the President
made very clear to everyone that he did not want and would
not tolerate torture. And that, in fact, we were going to
operate within our laws and within the Constitution, within
our values and those assessments have been made.
Thank you. I will turn this over to Ambassador