Two Christians Deported From Nepal After Forced Conversion Allegation

ICC Note: Two Christian foreigners have been deported from Nepal after being charged with engaging in religious conversions. De Vera Richard and his wife Rita Gonga were staying in Nepal on a business visa and charged with running a church and converting Nepali Hindus to Christianity. In 2017, Nepal passed a law criminalizing religious conversions which is set to take effect in August.

07/10/2018 Nepal (The Himalayan Times) – The government has deported two foreigners to their respective countries on charges of forceful religious conversion, which is a crime in Nepal.

Philippine national De Vera Richard and his Indonesian wife Rita Gonga, who were staying in Nepal on the business visa, allegedly converted Nepali Hindus to Christianity. The two, who were operating a restaurant in Pulchowk and were working as pastors at a church in Lalitpur, were deported to their countries on Friday. They have been prohibited from entering Nepal for a year.

Proselytization is a criminal offence in Nepal. Article 26 of the constitution states that ‘no person shall behave, act or make others act to disturb public law and order situation or convert a person of one religion to another or disturb the religion of other people; “Such an act shall be punished by law,” states the constitution.

The Criminal (Code) Act of Nepal, which was enacted in October 2017, bars people from engaging in acts of forceful religious conversion or operating promotional campaigns with the motive of encouraging individuals to convert to a new religion. People found guilty of such offence can be imprisoned for five years and fined Rs 50,000, as per the act.

The duo had violated these legal provisions and had also misused their business visas, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs. They were fined Rs 50,000, but were not imprisoned.

The two had fallen under government radar after a complaint was lodged at the MoHA on May 21. The ministry then directed the Department of Immigration to launch an investigation against the couple.

The probe found that the duo had been staying in Nepal on a one-year business visa issued on November 28. The investigation also found that the two were working as pastors at Every Nation Church in Kumaripati and ‘were converting Hindus into Christians’. The job they were performing at the church was in violation of the terms and conditions of the business visa extended to them.

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