Nepal Bill Criminalizes Religious Conversion

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

(Worthy News) - The Nepali parliament passed a Bill on 8 August criminalizing religious conversion and the ‘hurting of religious sentiment’. It is expected to become law once the approval of the president has been given.

The ‘Bill designed to amend and integrate prevalent laws relating to Criminal Offense’ was registered in parliament on 15 October 2014 and passed on 8 August 2017. However, there are concerns that these clauses could be used to target religious minorities, as occurred in the Charikot case in June 2016, when eight Nepali Christians were charged with attempting to convert children after sharing a comic book on the story of Jesus.

Human rights defenders in Nepal are calling for the Bill to be amended as it restricts *freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief. Religious conversion is also curtailed in Article 26 (3) of Nepal’s constitution, which was used in the Charikot trial.

Kiri Kankhwende, Senior Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said: “We are deeply concerned that if this Bill becomes law, we will see more cases like Charikot and further restrictions on the right to freedom of religion or belief in Nepal. The lesson from India is that anti-conversion laws not only restrict the rights of an individual to adopt a religion of their choice, but also put religious minority communities at risk of hostility and violence.” [ Source (Read More...) ]