The constitution establishes the separation of religion and state and the responsibility of the state to respect and protect legally recognized religious groups. It states that all citizens are equal under the law, with the same rights and obligations irrespective of their religion, and it recognizes the freedom of religious groups to teach their faith.
In January, President Umaro Sissoco Embalo attended a consecration ceremony for the new Bishop of Bissau, Jose Lampra Ca, along with other senior members of the government. President Sissoco and other government officials also attended a separate ceremony to install the new president of the Imam’s Union. In July, vandalism at a Catholic church in a majority-Muslim town created tension between Catholics and Muslims. Catholics criticized President Sissoco for reportedly downplaying the incident. The government continued its policy of not providing free food to Muslims during Ramadan. The government also temporarily cut tax exemptions for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and religious groups as part of an overall review of tax and customs exemptions. The government attempted to restrict the transmission of a church’s radio broadcast that other religious communities had accused of promoting division and intolerance.
Religious leaders in the country agreed that different ethnic and religious groups were mostly respectful and tolerant of one another throughout the country. Representatives from Islamic, Catholic, and Evangelical communities gathered for an inaugural two-day conference and produced a common agenda of religious leaders for the promotion of peace and prevention of radicalism and violent extremism in the country. The agenda included provisions to create a platform for dialogue and to institutionalize an annual day of inter-religious reflection to promote peace. During the year, nine individuals died from violence in cases related to witchcraft, compared with six such deaths in 2021. Several churches and mosques utilized radio to more widely broadcast both religious and nonreligious content.
There is no permanent U.S. diplomatic presence in the country. The United States directs its engagement in the country from the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. In March and in November, a visiting official from the U.S. Liaison Office to Guinea-Bissau at the Embassy in Dakar met separately with Muslim and Christian religious leaders in Bissau to discuss issues of tolerance and coexistence and their concern regarding the spread of religious extremism.