International Religious Freedom Summit to spotlight religious prisoners of conscience

Jun. 23, 2022

WASHINGTON — Ahead of the International Religious Freedom Summit 2022(IRF), organizers of this year’s summit have announced the continuation of the Global Campaign for Religious Prisoners of Conscience, an initiative to spotlight the hardships that people who are imprisoned for their beliefs endure.

By highlighting individual stories and hosting special summit activities, the campaign seeks to raise awareness about violations around the world of the right to religious freedom and advocate for those who are unjustly imprisoned for their beliefs, practices and advocacy.

“Thanks to the efforts of advocates, a growing number of people are aware of the threats to religious freedom around the world. Unfortunately, people often are ill-equipped to process suffering on a grand scale and are numbed by statistics and events seemingly beyond their control. The purpose of this campaign is to bridge that gap by zeroing on individual stories,” said Thang D. Nguyen, CEO and president of BPSOS. “If we can understand the hardships of an imprisoned religious leader, a disappeared child or a person tortured by an unjust government or a nonstate actor, we can feel compelled to work on behalf of them.”

Emerging Leaders, with the support of 21Wilberforce and BPSOS, will coordinate campaign activities at the summit. These include panels on issues such as the persecution of women and girls, effective advocacy in the media and how to work with elected officials and policymakers. Other activities will focus on advocating for about a dozen religious prisoners of conscience, selected to reflect diverse geographical regions, beliefs, kinds of activism and charges.

The full schedule of campaign events is available here.

The IRF Summit 2022 is the second annual gathering of international freedom advocates and activists from around the world. It will highlight increasing threats to freedom of religion, conscience and belief, and it will once again offer the IRF community a chance to come together to advance shared goals for extending these fundamental freedoms to people and faith communities across the globe.

The Summit is convened by Brownback and Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. It is supported by more than 40 diverse partners and aims to bring greater attention to religious freedom violations and to create a powerful coalition of groups to advance the cause of religious freedom around the world.

It will take place Tuesday, June 28 through Thursday, June 30 in Washington. A full list of speakers is available here.

More information on the International Religious Freedom Summit 2022 is available here.

Registration and accommodations are available here.

International Religious Freedom Summit 2022 is a powerful, broad coalition of religious, human rights and civil society groups that advocate for religious freedom for all people, everywhere at all times.

Samuel Brownback served as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom (2018-21) and is co-chair of IRF Summit 2022.

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett is president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, former Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and is co-chair of IRF Summit 2022.