National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka
GeneralJuly 19, 2006
"Bill for the Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion" (Private Member's Bill proposed by Omalpe Sobitha Thero of the JHU in 2004)
The Sri Lankan Parliament is considering the proposed Anti-Conversion Bill (mentioned above) which has now passed its 2nd Reading. Presently, the ‘Prohibition of Forcible Conversions Bill’ is being considered by a Standing Committee of Parliamentarians.
On the 23rd of May 2006, a three member delegation from NCEASL made oral and written submissions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee which is considering this Bill, objecting to the entire Bill.
The Bill will next be taken up for voting in Parliament, where it can be passed and made law with a simple majority (majority of one vote).
It is also learned that there are attempts to introduce other alternate legislation which will also regulate propagation and religious conversions.
As it is, with no such law in place, there is wide spread harassment and intimidation of Christians, forced closure of Churches and physical attacks on Christian citizens.
Such a law will only serve to legitimize rampant harassment of minority Christians and violation of the right to religion and worship.
NCEASL reiterates out stand that the Bill - even with amendments - will only serve to legitimize rampant harassment of minority Christians and violation of the right to religion and worship.
Note: In August 2004, NCEASL and 21 other petitioners including Christian, Hindu and civil rights groups challenged this Bill before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court determined that two clauses of the Bill were unconstitutional. The Bill that is being considered by Parliament has been amended, deleting the two offending clauses. However, the vague definitions and the excessive punishments still remain.
Advocacy Desk NCEASL July 2006
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