Kazakhstan: Government pressure on Christian meetings
Leaders of religious communities who fail to gain or choose not to seek state registration will face up to 60 days’ imprisonment if the new Criminal Code now in the upper house of Kazakhstan’s parliament is approved in the current form, Forum 18 News Service notes. Those who attend such communities could face up to 45 days’ imprisonment. The new Administrative Code, now in the Senate, also appears likely to continue current administrative punishments for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief. The new Criminal Implementation Code – also in the Senate – bans building places of worship in prisons. “Significant changes to these Codes are unlikely now at this late stage,” one human rights defender lamented to Forum 18. Asked why provisions of these Codes restrict individuals’ rights to freedom of religion or belief, Telegen Dertayev, a consultant on the Senate’s Legal Committee, insisted to Forum 18 that “we have religious freedom”.
Those who lead meetings for religious purposes without state permission could face up to 60 days’ imprisonment under provisions of the new Criminal Code now in the Senate, the upper house of Kazakhstan’s Parliament. Those who participate in but do not lead this exercise of the human right to freedom of religion or belief could face up to 45 days’ imprisonment, according to the current text seen by Forum 18 News Service.
These “offences” are currently punished with fines under the Code of Administrative Offences.
Another provision which would have prescribed punishments of up to four months’ imprisonment for a second “offence” of sharing one’s faith was removed during the Criminal Code’s passage through the Majilis, the lower house of Parliament. Deputies argued that the “offence” is already punished under the proposed new Code of Administrative Offences.
Human rights defenders and members of religious communities remain highly concerned about such proposed punishments in the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences which has also passed through the Majilis. Both these new Codes – together with the new Criminal Implementation Code, which covers the treatment of prisoners and specifically bans building places of worship in prisons – are now being considered in the Senate.
“Significant changes to these Codes are unlikely now at this late stage,” one human rights defender closely following developments told Forum 18 on 16 May. “They’re likely to be completed and signed before the break for the summer holidays in early July. We say it’s better for them not to be adopted at all, and if they are, we hope the harsh measures punishing religious activity won’t be used.”
- Pray these new laws will not pass
- Pray human rights activists will continue to shed light on Kazakhstan’s treatment of religious minorities
- Pray Christ will continue His ministering love and promises through His children to bring Kazakhstan to Him
Source and full story: http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1959