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Laos’ People’s Court Ruling: Praying for the Sick Is A Criminal Offense – Sentenced to 9 Months in Prison and Hefty Fine

ICC Note:

Eight months ago five Christian pastors prayed for a woman to be healed of her illness. Not long afterwards she died in a hospital, after being treated by a doctor. The five pastors were arrested for causing her death. The courts recently charged them under Article 82 of the Lao Penal Code (Performance of Medical Profession without License), making it a criminal offense for them to pray for healing, and sentenced them to nine months in prison as well as a hefty fine. They are being held at Savannakhet Provincial Prison

2/14/2015 Laos (hrwlrf)-On February 2, 2015, almost 8 months after the arrest of five Christian pastors/leaders, namely Kaithong, Puphet, Muk, Hasadee, and Tiang, the People’s Court of Savannakhet province ruled that the five pastors/leaders were found guilty of criminal offense causing the death of Mrs. Chansee (also known as Chan). The People’s Court based its judgment on Article 82 of the Lao Penal Code (Performance of Medical Profession without License) declaring that the five Christians were treating Mrs. Chansee without an official license causing her to die. (People’s Court of Savannakhet Province, Case No. 028/KT.S, Decision on February 12, 2015). The Court convicted the five Christians of being quack doctors and sentenced them to 9 months in prison and a fine of USD 62 each. The Court further ordered them to pay additional fine of USD 2,450 to the deceased family. They are currently being imprisoned at the Savannakhet Provincial Prison.

Interestingly, Mrs. Chansee in her legal capacity requested that she be treated with prayer for her illness since she had heard through her daughter and another relative that praying could bring healing. The five Christians treated Chansee’s illness solely by spiritual means through prayer without the use of any drug or material remedy in accordance with the tenets of their Christian religion as practiced in the Christian denominations in Laos and also worldwide.

By ruling that praying for the sick for healing in accordance to one’s religious beliefs constitutes an action that is considered medical practice needing licensing from the Ministry of Health, the People’s Court thus found the five Christians guilty of criminal offense of performing medical profession without license, causing the death of Mrs. Chansee. In the whole process of investigation and court trial, the five Christians were not given the chance to have a lawyer to represent their case.

The People’s Court may not have taken into account the severe illness suffered by Mrs. Chansee may be the cause-in-fact of her death. The five Christians seriously believed that God could heal Mrs. Chansee through their prayer of faith and did not foresee her death in their place of prayer. In fact, Mrs. Chansee’s death did not occur in the place where the five were praying for Mrs. Chansee’s healing. She died shortly after being treated by a licensed medical doctor at 109 Hospital in Utumphone district of Savannakhet province.

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