Hueysell Village Officials Threatened Banishment of Christians from Homes

Hueysell Village, Ngoi District, Luangprabang Province, LAOS
Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF)
Advocacy Alert No. 4/2012
March 2, 2012

Around January 13-14, 2012, Hueysell village authorities, consisting of village chief and village religious affairs chief and heads of other village government organizations, summoned two Christian leaders to the village government headquarters. There, the authorities verbally ordered Christians to abandon their Christian faith or face punishment of being kicked out of the village for good. However, Hueysell Christians have remained firmed in their faith. Thus far, village authorities have not carried through their threat of expulsion. Hueysell Christians led by their leader Mr. Jehia have 14 families, composing of over 80 individuals.

Local authorities continue to harass, threaten, and illegally order Lao Christians to abandon their faith or face severe consequences. While the Lao constitution guarantees that “Lao citizens have the right and freedom to believe or not to believe in religions,” (Article 30) and it further stipulates that “all acts of bureaucratism and harassment that can be physically harmful to the people and detrimental to their honor, lives, consciences and property are prohibited” (Article 6), Lao authorities have gotten away abusing the highest law of the land.

Furthermore, the legally binding treaty, INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, which is signed and ratified by the Lao government, stipulates that everyone—including Lao citizens— “shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

While the Lao constitution guarantees religious right and freedom and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides the right for Lao citizens to adopt a religion of his/her choice as well as to manifest that religion alone or together with others in worship, observance, practice and teaching, Lao authorities continue to harass, evict and arrest Lao Christians on the basis of the Prime Minister’s Decree (known as Decree 92). In practice, all religious activities of Lao citizens to believe or adopt the Christian belief and to manifest their belief are subject to official approval process.

The HRWLRF urges the Lao government to respect the Lao constitution as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as ratified by the Lao government and take the following actions:

(1) Punish Hueysell village authorities who have abused their power resulting in harassment and threatening of Christians on the basis of their belief;

(2) Modify Decree 92 to reflect the religious right and freedom guaranteed by the Lao constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and,

(3) Enact laws through the Lao Parliament that would support the right and freedom to believe and practice a religion of choice without restrictions or burdensome approval process.

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