01/12/2013, 00.00
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Kyrgyzstan to restrict further religions, boost penalties and limits on worship

Kyrgyzstan's State Commission for Religious Affairs and its National Security Committee propose tougher measures to restrict freedom of worship. Activist is concerned the authorities want to raise money at the expense of religious communities, including youth prayer groups.

Bishkek (AsiaNews/F18) - Kyrgyzstan's State Commission for Religious Affairs (SCRA), with the help of the National Security Committee (NSC), plans to impose new penalties on worshippers that would restrict further the right to religious freedom, an anonymous NSC official told Forum 18 News Service.

The proposed new penalties are included in Justice Ministry amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences and would potentially cover more punishable activities.  The draft bill is now before Ministry experts for further changes before it goes to parliament for approval.

The draft bill would punish proselytising and "any illegal missionary activity". It would also increase fines imposed on offenders. In a poor country like Kyrgyzstan, this would probably have a much greater impact on religious activity, stopping anything that could be fined.

This is at least what Galina Kolodzinskaia, a member of the Inter-religious Council in the Kyrgyz Republic, fears. "All of the religious leaders [. . .] were very worried about the amendments," she explained. "If adopted, the punishments will definitely be used. We regard them as a way for the authorities to collect money from religious communities."

Article 395 of the country's Administrative Code will also be amended. It currently punishes religious organisations that refuse to register with the authorities or fail to respect existing procedures. Other amendments would harden punishments.

Prayer meetings in places deemed inappropriate would be punished. The same would apply to "teaching religious beliefs without personal registration" and setting up "religious groups for young people".


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See also
Even more restrictions in new law on religious freedom
Kyrgyzstan to restrict religious freedom
Kyrgyz government to require religions to register or fold
Kyrgyz and Kazakhs detained with Uyghurs in Xinjiang, activists say
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