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ICC Note: Christians in Nepal have expressed a sense of fear and insecurity as the government has enacted a new anti-conversion law. According to the law, anyone who encourages or is involved in religious conversion by any means will be punished with a jail sentence of up to five years and a fine of 50,000 Nepalese rupees. Christians fear this law has been enacted to target their growing community.  

08/28/2018 Nepal (UCAN) – The enactment of new legislation criminalizing religious conversion in Nepal has sparked a heightened sense of fear and insecurity among Christian minorities.

The Civil and Criminal Codes, which came into effect on Aug. 17 to replace the General Code that was in place for 165 years, comprise a set of laws guiding civil and legal proceedings, including restrictions on religious conversion, in the Hindu-majority nation.

One new law states that anybody who encourages or is involved in religious conversion using any means will be booked under a criminal offense and will face a jail term of five years and a fine of 50,000 Nepalese rupees (US$445). Any foreigner found guilty of encouraging or promoting religious conversions will be deported within a week.

Christian leaders believe the move is targeted at Christians, who have been accused of forceful proselytizing of Nepalis, particularly those from vulnerable and lower castes. They fear the law will be used as a tool to harass and persecute Christian minorities for practicing their religion.

“The Christian community is alarmed about this new law. This is like a saw that is always hanging on top of us and can be used any time against us,” said Father Silas Bogati, vicar general of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal.

It is a basic fundamental right of an individual to accept or practice any religion or any belief, he said. “With the new law implemented, we feel that our freedom of religion has been hampered and it looks like we will not be able to even practice our own religion in a fair manner,” Father Bogati added.

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