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UCAN's Asia Religious Persecution Index

This religious freedom project will be the first exhaustive look at the situation facing religions in each country of Asia

UCAN's Asia Religious Persecution Index

Indians in New Delhi protest anti-Christian violence in the country in this file photo. ( photo) reporter, Yangon International

October 13, 2016

UCA News, Asia's most comprehensive Catholic new website, has published a landmark book on religious freedom across the region to be launched in Yangon on Oct. 14.

Building on the work for the book On the Edge to be launched by Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, the agency in early 2017 will provide an exhaustive look at the situation facing all religions in each country of the region.

The next stage in UCAN's religious freedom project will be the first Asia Religious Persecution Index, a comprehensive and comparative report measuring religious freedom and persecution throughout Asia.

The UCAN index, that will combine analysis, reporting and case studies, will be the first independent, non-governmental report to measure religious freedom across Asia.

"The Asia Religious Persecution Index will be the first of its kind," said Father Michael Kelly, SJ, Executive Director of UCAN.

"The aim of the index is to provide a comprehensive overview of the state of religious freedom in each country; a sense of where each country lies in comparison to its neighbors, and the ways in which things are improving or deteriorating," said Father Kelly.

On the Edge is the first step in developing an Asia-wide appreciation of the challenges to religious freedom viewed comparatively. The forthcoming religious persecution index fills a noticeable gap in the commentary on human rights in the region.

A few governments, including the United States, publish annual reports. Yet there is virtually no regular independent documentation on this issue that underpins tensions within and between nations across the Asian region.

Rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch publish occasional reports on particular instances of religious persecution, while religious groups such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide publish reports focused primarily on the persecution of Christians.

UCAN is the first pan-Asian organization to take the step to look broadly at the state of all religions and their denominations with the index.

To create the Asia Religious Persecution Index, independent researchers will liaise with UCAN's Asia-wide network of bureaux where editors and reporters will create a comprehensive dossier on each country.

This will include, but not be limited to, instances of religious persecution, the quality legal frameworks designed to protect religious freedom, the use of judicial power and extra judicial programs, the repression of religious minorities, the separation of the state from each country's dominant religion(s).

In the final report, 22 countries will have a dedicated section that will explain the state of religious freedom within their borders, analyze broader related issues, and highlight specific incidents, within the reporting period.

Interspersed with the individual country reports, will be up to 10 case studies highlighting a particular incidence of progress or decline in religious freedom.

Each country will receive an Asia Religious Persecution Index score measured on an easy-to-understand, seven-point scale. Each country will also be ranked on a scale of 1 (dismal performance) to 7 (outstandingly positive performance) representing the state of religious freedom in each country.

The five overall areas of assessment will be:

  1. State of religious and ethnic pluralism
  2. The legal framework for religion and access to remedies and systems of redress in the event of abuses and breakdowns
  3. State of official recognition of the institutional independence of religious communities
  4. Religious tolerance as it occurs in the operation of national cultures
  5. Government accountability.
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