The constitution provides for freedom of thought, conscience, and belief, as well as for free exercise of religion and equal protection under the law, regardless of religious beliefs. It also provides for “reasonable restrictions” imposed by law on the “time, place, or manner of conduct” – provided they are the least restrictive necessary for public peace, order, health, or security or the rights or freedoms of others, and they do not penalize conduct based on a disagreement with the ideas or beliefs expressed. The constitution states that no law or legal action shall discriminate against any person on the basis of religion.
The constitution allows the government to extend financial aid to religiously supported institutions to provide nonprofit educational, medical, or social services, on the condition that such services do not discriminate among religious groups.
There are no requirements for the registration of religious groups, but if religious groups register as a nonprofit corporation or a cooperative, they may qualify for tax exemptions. The law states that the tax on gross revenue shall not be applied to “corporations, associations, or societies organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, or educational purposes.” In addition, the goods imported into the country by “churches for their own religious, educational, or charitable purposes” are exempt from import duty.
The country is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Governmental functions, by continuing custom, often began and ended with an ordained minister or other church official delivering a Christian prayer. While there was no religious education in public schools, most extracurricular school events began and ended with an interdenominational Christian prayer delivered by a minister. According to local residents, prayers before and after events were a longstanding cultural practice and part of the widely accepted tradition of the country.
The government provided funding to 15 private religious schools during the year totaling $295,000. All chartered private schools were eligible for funding. The amount of funding religious schools received depended on how much was available after ensuring the basic needs of public school system were covered first. With foreign grant funding to the government decreasing, the amount of funding provided to private schools, including religious schools, likewise decreased. The distribution of allocations were based on a combination of enrollment, performance (test results), and accreditation.
Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community reported difficulties in gaining access to government officials, which they attributed to prejudice against Muslims, continued to contribute to government delays in approving certain humanitarian and social welfare projects sponsored by the Muslim community.