Proposed Religion Law in Moldova Delayed

( [email protected] ) May 12, 2004 07:29 PM EDT

A proposed law that would have created new restrictions on religious groups was sent back for further revision in the republic of Transdniester in eastern Moldova. According to the Voice of the Martyrs, the law would have placed serious restrictions in many areas of religious activities, particularly for foreign religious workers and unregistered groups.

The country of Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, is governed by a democratic constitution that guarantees religious freedom and, generally speaking, this seems to have been respected. However, the law contains restrictions that has caused restrictions of freedom for some groups. Registration is required by law and has not always been easily available to smaller religious organizations.

In recent years, religious communities that do not register with the government have faced harassment and the confiscation of literature. One church building in Tiraspol was threatened with destruction in February, but the threats were not carried out.

Despite the postponement of the proposed law, the government plans to amend the

Criminal Code for "illegal activity of sects," increasing the fines by fifteen times and prison sentences for up to one year.

According to a May 5 report from Forum 18, the government intends to introduce a new draft but it will be delayed by at least six months.