PrefaceInternational Religious Freedom ReportBureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor2003 REPORT ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Why The Reports Are PreparedThis report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in compliancewith Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. Thelaw provides that the Secretary of State, with the assistance of the Ambassador atLarge for International Religious Freedom, shall transmit to Congress "an AnnualReport on International Religious Freedom supplementing the most recent HumanRights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect tomatters involving international religious freedom."How The Reports Are PreparedIn August 1993, the Secretary of State moved to strengthen the human rightsefforts of our embassies. All sections in each embassy were asked to contributeinformation and to corroborate reports of human rights violations, and new effortswere made to link mission programming to the advancement of human rights anddemocracy. In 1994 the Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs wasreorganized and renamed as the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,reflecting both a broader sweep and a more focused approach to the interlockingissues of human rights, worker rights, and democracy. In 1998 the Secretary ofState established the Office of International Religious Freedom. In May 2002, JohnV. Hanford, III was sworn in as the second Ambassador at Large for InternationalReligious Freedom.The 2003 Report covers the period from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003, andreflects a year of dedicated effort by hundreds of State Department, ForeignService, and other U.S. Government employees. Our embassies, which prepared theinitial drafts of the reports, gathered information throughout this period from avariety of sources, including government and religious officials, nongovernmentalorganizations, journalists, human rights monitors, religious groups, andacademics. This information-gathering can be hazardous, and U.S. Foreign ServiceOfficers regularly go to great lengths, under trying and sometimes dangerousconditions, to investigate reports of human rights abuse, to monitor elections,and to come to the aid of individuals at risk because of their religious beliefs.After the embassies completed their drafts, the texts were sent to Washington forcareful review by the Office of Country Reports and Asylum Affairs and the Officeof International Religious Freedom, both in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,and Labor. They worked closely with other State Department Offices and the Officeof the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, who has ultimateresponsibility for the Report on behalf of the Secretary of State. As they workedto corroborate, analyze, and edit the reports, the Department officers drew onreports provided by U.S. and other human rights groups, foreign governmentofficials, representatives from the United Nations and other international andregional organizations and institutions, and experts from academia and the media.Officers also consulted with experts on issues of religious discrimination andpersecution, religious leaders from all faiths, and experts on legal matters. Theguiding principle was to ensure that all relevant information was assessed asobjectively, thoroughly, and fairly as possible.