IRB – Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (Author)
Article 19 of the constitution of Nepal
(1) Every person shall have the freedom to
profess and practise his own religion as handed down to him from
ancient times having due regard to traditional practices:
Provided that no person shall be entitled
to convert another person from one religion to another.
(2) Every religious denomination shall have
the right to maintain its independent existence and for this
purpose to manage and protect its religious places and trusts
(Sharma June 1994, 20).
In addition, the constitution states that
Nepal is a Hindu nation (ibid., 9), but, according to Country
Reports 1995, "it does not establish Hinduism as the state
religion" (Apr. 1996, 1329). In 1992, according to Contemporary
Religions: A World Guide, about 90 per cent of Nepal's 19 million
citizens were Hindu, with less than 2 per cent Christian (Harris
1992, 447). A London-based news service operated by Overseas
Missions, an international Christian missionary group, reported in
March 1996 that the number of Christians in Nepal was growing
quickly, with 300,000 to 400,000 worshipping in 2,000 churches
across the country (News Bytes Mar. 1996).
According to Country Reports 1995,
"Although the government has generally not interfered with the
practices of other religions, conversion is prohibited and
punishable with fines or imprisonment, and police occasionally
harass members of minority religions" (1330). Eleven Christians
were arrested for proselytizing in September 1994 and sentenced to
two year's imprisonment (ibid.; Amnesty International 1996, 234).
According to Amnesty International, one of the eleven was a Nepali
national, another was Indian, and the nine remaining were Bhutanese
(Amnesty International 1996, 234). Country Reports 1995 reported
that the eleven were pardoned and released in November 1995 (Apr.
In January 1995 the World Hindu Federation
reportedly expressed concern over the spread of Christianity in
Nepal, and called on the Nepalese government to stop the
conversions in order to protect the Hindu religion (Kyodo News
International 16 Jan. 1995). A 3 December 1994 report in the
Durham, North Carolina Herald-Sun quotes an American missionary in
Nepal, Ellen Collins, as saying that since 1990 Christians have
been able to work with much greater freedom in Nepal. However, a 24
April 1995 report from Christianity Today quotes missionary Robert
Karthak as indicating that despite Christianity's strong growth in
Nepal in recent years, Christians "are still treated as
This Response was prepared after
researching publicly accessible information currently available to
the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does
not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular
claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of
sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Amnesty International. 1996. Amnesty
International Report 1996. London: Amnesty International.
Christianity Today [Carol Stream,
Illinois]. 24 April 1995. Timothy C. Morgan. "From One City to the
World: Bill Graham's Most Ambitious Crusade Transcends Racial,
Cultural, and Class Barriers, as well as Time Zones." (NEXIS)
Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices 1995. April 1996. United States Department of State.
Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office.
Harris, Ian et al. 1992. Contemporary
Religions: A World Guide. The High, Harlow, Essex: Longman Group
The Herald-Sun [Durham, N.C.]. 3
December 1994. Bob Connors. "Couple with a Mission: They Focus on
Development in Familiar Nepal." (NEXIS)
Kyodo News International. 16 January
1995. "Hindus Worry About Conversions to Christianity in Nepal."
News Bytes [London]. March 1996. "Church
in Nepal." (Internet: http://www.om.org/news/9603.htm).
Sharma, Kunjar M., et al. June 1994.
"Nepal." Constitutions of the Countries of the World." Edited by
Albert P. Blaustein and Gisbert H. Flanz. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana