ASIA/LAOS - Prayer for the sick is a crime

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Savannakhet (Agenzia Fides) - The provincial authorities of Savannakhet have established that "the religious ceremony to pray for the healing of the sick, in accordance with their religious worship, is a violation of Article 41 and 42 of the health care law", therefore it is seen as a crime as "it is an an abuse of medical profession". This is what a Report of the Department of Health, in the province of Savannakhet stated. The Report was published after the case of the five Christians arrested and convicted for having prayed for a dying woman (see Fides 16/02/2015).
The news has disturbed the Christian community. According to the NGO "Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom" (HRWLRF), that order "is a direct violation of the Constitution and laws of Laos". In fact, article 9 of the Constitution states: "The state respects and protects all lawful activities of Buddhists and other religious denominations". While Article 30 of the Constitution states: "The citizens of Laos have the right and freedom to believe or not to believe in religion". The Report of the provincial authorities of Savannakhet establishes instead, that "praying for the sick is an illegal activity": thus "it removes the right and freedom of belief guaranteed by the Constitution", notes HRWLRF.
Moreover, the decision goes against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the government of Laos. Christians are appealing to the government of Laos so that provisions that violate the general laws of the state are not adopted at a local or provincial level, and for the provision of Savannakhet to be revoked. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 04/03/2015)