Laos (Mission Network News) — The freedom to meet with members of the Body of Christ is at risk in Laos. A new law requires all religious meetings must first get approval from multiple government offices. Laos’ Prime Minister signed this Decree on Associations in August 2017. According to The Voice of the Martyrs, approval is rarely given — if at all.
Todd Nettleton with VOM explains, “The focus is on groups of people that gather together. Whether it be for Christian purposes or for political purposes or even like a labor union purpose, the government wants to control who you gather with and what you do during this gatherings. So the focus of the law is not necessarily particularly aimed at religion; however, the concern among the Christians in Laos is it’s going to be used primarily to shut down religious activity and religious expression.”
Laos is a state party to seven core treaties on international human rights. Earlier this year, Laos also participated in their 8th Dialogue on Human Rights and Governance with the European Union and agreed to reinforce human rights. However, this new law is a clear violation of human rights and religious freedom in the country.