The constitution provides for the free exercise of all religions. The law establishes the conditions for recognition and practice of religious groups. The government continued to provide the Catholic Church with funds and privileges other religious groups did not receive. Despite Vodou’s registration as a religious group since 2003, the government still did not grant Vodou clergy legal certification to perform civilly recognized marriages or baptisms. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religious Denominations (MFA) continued not to approve long-standing requests from the Muslim community for religious registration. The MFA discussed the issue with the Muslim community during the year and requested registration paperwork and information about the community’s financing, in line with the government’s standard registration requirements.
Vodou community leaders stated Vodou practitioners continued to experience social stigmatization for their beliefs and practices. According to the leadership of the National Confederation of Haitian Vaudouisants, as in previous years, teachers and administrators in Catholic and Protestant schools at times openly rejected and condemned Vodou culture and customs as contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Muslim leaders said their community continued to face social stigma and discrimination from the rest of society, especially Muslim women wearing hijabs. Muslims also reportedly faced discrimination when seeking public and private sector employment.
U.S. embassy officials met with the MFA to reinforce the importance of religious freedom, in particular the need for equal protection and equal legal rights for religious minority groups. Embassy representatives also met with faith-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and Catholic, Protestant, Vodou, and Muslim religious leaders to seek their views on religious freedom and tolerance.