Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kyrgyzstan: Religious censorship and proposed ban on sharing faiths


In addition to the new proposed restrictions, the amendments do not propose removing any of the restrictions on exercising freedom of religion or belief in the current Law.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Forum 18 News
By Felix Corley | May 31, 2017

Punishments have not yet been set out for those violating all these provisions

All religious literature would be subject to censorship, sharing beliefs would be banned, adults wanting to study faith abroad would have to notify Religious Affairs officials, and 500 adult citizens in one location would be required to apply for registration if parliament adopts Religion Law amendments.

Full state censorship of all religious literature published, distributed or photocopied in Kyrgyzstan or imported into the country, as well as a ban on sharing beliefs in public – particularly from door to door – could soon become law. Proposed amendments to the 2009 Religion Law are due to have their first reading in the Zhogorku Kenesh (Parliament) in the capital Bishkek today (1 June).

The amendments were prepared by the State Commission for Religious Affairs (SCRA), which has been headed since 13 February by Zaiyrbek Ergeshov.

Other provisions in the proposed amendments include a rise in the number of adult citizens living in one place required before a religious community can apply for registration from 200 to 500, as well as a requirement that even adults who travel abroad for religious education have to inform the state where they are studying.

Punishments have not yet been set out for those violating all these provisions.

In addition to the new proposed restrictions, the amendments do not propose removing any of the restrictions on exercising freedom of religion or belief in the current Law. Existing provisions which violate Kyrgyzstan's international human rights commitments include a ban on exercising freedom of religion or belief without state registration.

Deputies told Forum 18 the amendments could be adopted before parliament's summer break, or after parliament returns in September.

Many provisions of the proposed amendments are close to provisions proposed in 2014. They were strongly criticised by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.


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