Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July 2014, 14:54 GMT

July-December, 2010 International Religious Freedom Report - Lesotho

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 13 September 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, July-December, 2010 International Religious Freedom Report - Lesotho, 13 September 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e734c8741.html [accessed 24 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
September 13, 2011

[Covers six-month period from 1 July 2010 to 31 December 2010 (USDOS is shifting to a calendar year reporting period)]

The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally enforced these protections.

The government generally respected religious freedom in law and in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period.

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 11,720 square miles and a population of 1.9 million. Eighty percent of the population is Christian and members of indigenous religious groups make up approximately 20 percent of the population. There are an estimated 4,000 Muslim families, 150 Hindu families, and 800 members of the Bahai faith. Muslim and Hindu numbers have declined significantly in recent years due to emigration to South Africa. There are a small number of Jews but no practicing Jewish community.

While Christians can be found throughout the country, Muslims live primarily in Butha-Buthe, Leribe, and Berea districts, which are situated in the northern area of the country. Many Christians practice traditional cultural beliefs and rituals in conjunction with Christianity.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

Please refer to Appendix C in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for the status of the government's acceptance of international legal standards http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/appendices/index.htm.

The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally enforced these protections.

The government has no established requirements for religious group recognition. Any registered religious group may apply for a waiver of taxes and duties on charitable donations from outside the country; however, in practice few, if any, waivers are given because the registered religious groups do not always apply for such waivers. Unregistered groups are not eligible for any government benefits, such as duty-free import permits for donated items or tax deductions on donated funds. Under the Societies Act, any group may register with the government, regardless of the purpose of the organization. The only requirements for registration are a constitution and a leadership committee. There are no penalties for not registering, and it is common for informal church groups not to register.

The Ministry of Education pays and certifies all teachers and requires a standard curriculum for both secular and parochial schools. The Catholic Church operates an estimated 40 percent of all primary and secondary schools. The Evangelical Church, the Anglican Church, and to a lesser extent the Methodist Church also operate schools.

The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, and Christmas.

The Christian Council of Lesotho played an important role in the mediation of conflict between the government and opposition political parties who were contesting the allocation of proportional representational seats in the national assembly following the 2007 general elections.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

The government generally respected religious freedom in law and in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period.

There were no reports of abuses, including religious prisoners or detainees, in the country.

Section III. Status of Societal Actions Affecting Enjoyment of Religious Freedom

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Mutual respect between Christians and Muslims was the norm; various ecumenical efforts promoted cooperation on social matters.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

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