03/09/2012 Laos (HRWLRF) - Lao local officials, consisting of all three levels of government—provincial, district, and village—continue to harass and arrest members of non-registered Protestant groups claiming they do not have legal status or approval to practice religion issued to them by proper authorities.
Religious groups attempting to register with the governemnt authorities, namely the Lao Front for National Construction (LFNC), continue face hardship and postponement. Since Decree 92 (Lao religious law) took effect in 2002, not one religious group or denomination has been approved for registration or legal status by the LFNC.
Additionally, present non-registered religious groups are reported to have been harassed by the only recognized Protestant denomination, Lao Evangelical Church (LEC), due to the groups' lack of legal status or official recognition. Some leaders of LEC are claiming that they alone have official recognition and other non-registered groups are considered illegal and liable for charges or arrest.
In order to bring clarity to the registration or legal status of religious groups or denominations in member nations (states), including Laos, the Human Rights Council’s UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion of belief on December 22, 2011, recommended: (1) "States should refrain from exercising pressure on religious or belief groups whose members prefer not to be registered as legal entities under domestic law" and (2) "States should instruct members of law enforcement and other State agencies that religious activities of non-registered religious or belief communities are not illegal, as the status of freedom of religion or belief prevails over any acts of State registration." View Other Recommendations