The arrest of eight Christians for providing religious material to children in Nepal was highlighted in a statement made by Christian groups at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“Eight Christians including two school principals and a pastor from Charikot in Dolakha district were arrested in June 2016 and imprisoned for nine days, during which two of the men faced physical assault by police officers,” said the joint oral statement made by the World Evangelical Alliance and Christian Solidarity at the council’s 33rd session which runs from Sept. 13-30.
“They were released on bail but all still face charges of attempting to convert children to Christianity, simply by handing out a pamphlet which explains the story of Jesus,” said the statement.
“This case is an early indicator of how legal provisions may be invoked to restrict peaceful expressions of religious faith and the very basis of a secular state and society where human rights are protected,” it continued.
The statement also described how legislation in Nepal and the country’s constitution restricts religious freedom and freedom of expression.
The statement refuted Nepalese government claims earlier this year that full religious freedom is guaranteed in the country’s new constitution.
“Section 26(3) of the constitution and other legislation are inconsistent with international human rights law as it limits the freedom of the individual to convert from one faith to another and the freedom to peacefully express and share one’s faith with others,” said the statement.