According to Forum 18, Kyrgyzstan’s State Commission for Religious Affairs (SCRA) is continuing to work on a draft of a new Religion Law, and seems to be ignoring civil society and UN Human Rights Committee criticism, and a Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court ruling that some of the Law’s restrictions are unconstitutional. The Law aims to increase existing restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, and give even more power to the SCRA.
Proposals announced in October 2014 caused great concern to human rights defenders and religious and belief communities, and include: increasing the number of members required for religious organisations to be registered from 200 to 500, and all such organisations need to be re-registered; requiring anyone working in any capacity, in any religious organisation, to have an annually renewed SCRA licence; and requiring every institution offering religious education to have an SCRA licence.
The government also proposes that existing punishments in the Administrative Code for exercising freedom of religion or belief should be increased, up to the equivalent of 14 months’ average salary.
It is unclear whether the new draft will be made available for public comment, and if so, when that will be.
In an interview, Ms.Kolodzinskaia of the Inter-religious Council thought that the government has no plans to change the Religion Law in 2015, but if there are any changes, they will occur after the parliamentary elections, to be held in autumn.
She noted that the authorities are primarily interested in harmonising Kyrgyzstan’s laws with those of other Eurasian Economic Union states, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. Kyrgyzstan joined the Union on 8th May 2015.
- Pray for the Government of Kyrgyzstan, to heed to concerns of religious and human rights organisations, and to soften their stance on freedom of religion.
- Pray for the Kyrgyz Church, as it faces increasing pressure from both the Muslim community and the government.
- Pray for unity amongst Kyrgyz believers, and for truth and righteousness to shine in this nation.
Amos 5 vs 24: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”