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American human rights organization called Kazakhstan Senate to reject Religious Law

28 september 2011, 18:18
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vesti.kz stock photo
vesti.kz stock photo
American human right organization Freedom House called Kazakhstan Senate to dismiss draft law On religious activities and religious organizations, KazTAG reports.

"Freedom House is deeply concerned over the adoption by the lower house of the Kazakhstani Parliament of a repressive new religion law that would impose numerous hurdles to citizens pursuing their religious beliefs and calls upon the Senate to reject the law," the message states.

According to organization, draft Religion Law will “grossly curb Kazakhstani citizens’ right to freely practice and express their faith.”

"If adopted by the Senate, this law would cancel all religious organizations’ current registration and force them to re-register. The law also stipulates that in order for a group to register at the local level, it needs to have 50 adult members; 500 at the regional level; and 5,000 at the national level. Several minority religious groups do not have the required number of members and would be prohibited from continuing their activities and subject to fines if they disobey.

If a group is not registered as a religious organization, it cannot receive any other legal status. Moreover, the law requires that the State Agency on Religion review all religious literature, materials, and texts and that these texts be distributed only in offices and religious buildings. All missionaries, including Kazakhstani citizens, must be registered in the State Agency on Religion and are required re-register each year," the press-release states.

“These provisions are very troubling, as they grossly curb Kazakhstani citizens’ right to freely practice and express their faith,” the press-release cited Susan Corke, Freedom House’s senior program manager for Eurasia.

Freedom House is “calling on the Senate and on President Nazarbayev to strike down this restrictive legislation.”

“The Kazakhstani government has attempted to put restrictions on religious groups in the past (in 2002 and 2009) without success. The attempts were rejected by Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council because provisions contradicted articles 14 and 39 of the Constitution which forbid any discrimination for reasons of origin, social, property status, occupation, sex, race, nationality, language, or attitude towards religion."

Freedom House has been monitoring a global uptick in repressive legislation on religious freedom, including Hungary’s “Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on Churches, Religions and Religious Community.” That legislation requires religious groups to regain registration and places high thresholds on group membership for such status. These trends underscore a growing threat to fundamental freedoms worldwide.”

Draft law On religious activities and religious institutions was presented to the lower chamber of Kazakhstan parliament on September 8.

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