The constitution provides for the freedom of conscience, expression, assembly, and association. These rights may be restricted by any law that is “reasonably required” in the interests of defense or public safety, order, morality, or health.
Under the law, religious groups must register with the government to operate in an official capacity, which includes proselytizing, building houses of worship, holding religious services, and officiating at marriages. A 2014 cabinet memorandum sets out requirements for registration of new religious groups, including having at least 750 enrolled members, land and a building in the country, and leadership by a Nauruan member of the clergy, who must reside in the country. The Catholic Church, Nauru Congregational Church, Assemblies of God, Nauru Independent Church, and Seventh-day Adventist Church are officially registered.
Religious groups may operate private schools, and a number do so. In public schools, the government allows religious groups to have a weekly religious education program with students during school hours, but it does not require schools to offer such education. In schools where religious education is provided, students are required to attend the program led by the representative of their respective religious group. Students whose faith is not represented are required to undertake independent study during the class time devoted to religious education.
The country is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Although the law requires registration for religious groups to conduct a full range of activities, local religious leaders stated the government required such recognition only if a denomination’s clergy wished to officiate at marriages. There were no reports the government discriminated in the registration process, although leaders of churches with smaller congregations continued to express concerns that the 750-member requirement implemented in 2014 was difficult to meet. The registration application for the Baptist Church, which did not have 750 members, remained pending at the end of the year.
In his New Year’s message, President Baron Waqa stated the country continued to live harmoniously with refugees and asylum seekers. He ended his message saying he trusted the people to have celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ.