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U.S. Department of State
Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999

Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Washington, DC, September 9, 1999


Section I. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.

The Constitution provides for the suspension of religious freedom in the interests of national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health. However, any suspension of religious freedom by the Government must be deemed "reasonably justifiable in a democratic society."

The Constitution also provides for the protection of the rights and freedoms of other persons, including the right to observe and practice any religion without the unsolicited intervention of members of any other religion.

All religious organizations must register with the Government. To register, a group submits its constitution to the Ministry of Home Affairs. After a generally simple bureaucratic process, the organization is registered. There are no legal benefits for registered organizations. Unregistered groups are potentially liable to penalties including fines up to $317 (1,000 Pula), up to 7 years in jail, or both. Except for the case of the Unification Church, there is no indication that any religious organization has ever been denied registration.

The Unification Church was denied registration (but not suspended) in 1984 by the Ministry of Home Affairs on the public order grounds stipulated in the Constitution. The Government also perceived the Unification Church as anti-Semitic and denied registration because of another constitutional provision, which protects the rights and freedoms of individuals to practice their religion without intervention. In the intervening 15 years, although it has petitioned unsuccessfully the offices of the President and Vice President, the Unification Church has made no move to challenge the Ministry's decision in the courts.

About half of the country's citizens identify themselves as Christians. Anglicans, Methodists, and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa--formerly the London Missionary Society--claim the majority of Christian adherents. There are also congregations of Lutherans, Roman Catholics, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, the Dutch Reformed Church, and other Christian denominations.

In recent years, a number of churches of West African origin have begun holding services, drawing good-sized crowds with a charismatic blend of Christianity and traditional indigenous religions.

Most other citizens adhere to traditional indigenous religions, or to a mixture of religions. There is a small Muslim community--about 2 to 3 percent of the population--primarily of South Asian origin, and a very small Baha'i community as well.

The Constitution provides that every religious community may establish places for religious instruction at the community's expense. The Constitution prohibits forced religious instruction, forced participation in religious ceremonies, or taking oaths that run counter to an individual's religious beliefs.

There are no laws against proselytizing.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.

There were no reports of religious detainees or prisoners.

There were no reports of forced religious conversion of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section II. Societal Attitudes

Relations between the country's religious communities are amicable. An independent effort to establish an interfaith committee between the Christian and Muslim communities in the early 1990's failed due to lack of identifiable mutual interests.

Section III. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the overall context of the promotion of human rights.

[End of Document]

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Revised last: 10-09-1999