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Christians charged with breaking Nepal’s anti-conversion laws

South Asia

Christians charged with breaking Nepal’s anti-conversion laws

Christian leaders in Nepal. Photo Credit: Federation of National Christians Nepal (FNCN).

Four Christians were reported to the police and arrested in early November near Kathmandu charged with breaking Nepal’s strict anti-conversion laws.

It was alleged that the individuals, two of them Japanese nationals, had been “proselytising” door-to-door, “targeting Dalits” – considered “untouchable” by high-caste Hindus.

If convicted, the two Nepalis arrested could face five years in prison and a 50,000 rupee fine, while the Japanese Christians could potentially receive the same prison sentence or be deported.

The criminal code in Nepal was amended in August 2018 to make it an offense to “involve or encourage in conversion of religion” or “hurt religious sentiment”. While the constitution already prohibited proselytization, the vagueness of the revised law has been criticized for being susceptible to abuse.

Christians make up as much as 5% of the population of Nepal, 85 per cent of which is Hindu. Although Nepal is officially a secular nation, it was a Hindu kingdom up until 2008.