The constitution provides for the free exercise of all religions and establishes laws to regulate the registration and operation of religious groups. The constitution protects against being compelled to belong to a religious group contrary to one’s belief. The MFA is responsible for monitoring and administering laws relating to religious groups, while the Bureau of Worship, an office within the ministry, is responsible for registering churches and other religious buildings, clergy, and missionaries of various religious denominations.
An 1860 concordat between the Holy See and the state remains in effect and gives the Vatican power to approve and select a specific number of bishops in the country with the consent of the government. Under the concordat, the government provides a monthly stipend to Catholic priests. Catholic and Episcopalian bishops have official license plates and carry diplomatic passports.
All religious groups are legally required to register with the MFA. Registration affords religious groups standing in legal disputes, provides tax-exempt status, and extends civil recognition to documents such as marriage and baptismal certificates, which are issued in a similar way to birth certificates. The government does not tax registered religious groups and exempts their imports from customs duties. Requirements for registration include information on qualifications of the group’s leader, a membership directory, and a list of the group’s social projects. Registered religious groups must submit annual updates of their membership, projects, and leadership to the MFA. Foreign missionaries are required to submit registration paperwork to operate privately funded clinics, schools, and orphanages.
The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Although Vodou was registered in 2003, the government continued not to recognize Vodou marriage and baptism ceremonies. The MFA continued to accept applications requesting such recognition.
The MFA did not act on a pending request for registration of Islam as a religious group or communicate an explanation for the inaction to the National Council of Muslims. Muslims were required to obtain civil marriage licenses while Christian clergy were able to conduct government-recognized ceremonies.
The government continued to provide financial support for the maintenance of Catholic churches and some Catholic schools. Despite ongoing negotiations between the Protestant Federation and the MFA, the Protestant Federation said in May that the system of financial support was still unavailable to other religious groups.
Muslims and many nondenominational Christian groups stated they operated freely without formal registration.
Government sources stated their continued limited institutional capacity restricted their ability to provide the full range of religious services for prisoners requested by Muslims, particularly in facilities outside of Port-au-Prince. Volunteers provided religious services in some prisons, and prisoners were unhindered from exercising their religious beliefs.
Protestant and Catholic clergy continued to report good working relationships with the government. The Catholic Church and Protestant groups operated schools and provided numerous social services.