The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
The constitution provides for the right of individuals to choose, practice, and change their religion. The constitution also guarantees the right of any citizen to sue the government for the violation of any constitutionally protected freedom.
The law on freedom of association governs relations between the government and religious groups. The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization (MINATD) and the presidency must approve and register religious groups in order for them to operate in the country. Although the law prescribes no specific penalties for operating without official recognition, the government reserves the right to ban illegal groups at any time.
To register, a religious group must legally qualify as a religious congregation, defined as “any group of natural persons or corporate bodies whose vocation is divine worship” or “any group of persons living in community in accordance with a religious doctrine.” The religious group then submits to MINATD a request for authorization, a copy of the group’s charter describing planned activities, and the names and functions of the group’s officials. MINATD reviews the file and sends it to the presidency with a recommendation to approve or deny. The president may then grant authorization by presidential decree. Official recognition confers no general tax benefits but allows religious groups to receive real estate as a tax-free gift for the conduct of their activities, allows missionaries to receive visas with longer validity, and permits public gathering and worship.
The Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Secondary Education require private schools that religious groups run to meet the same curriculum, infrastructure, and teacher-training standards as state-operated schools.
The law does not restrict religious publishing or other religious media.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Ascension Day, Assumption Day, Eid al-Fitr, Eid Al Adha, and Christmas.