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A Nepalese pastor faces one year in prison for alleged forced conversions

Pastor Keshav Raj Acharya from Nepal is due to start a one-year prison sentence for alleged forced conversion activities. His appeal was denied last week.

Pator Keshav was arrested numerous times between 2020 and 2021 on charges of converting Hindus to Christianity. He was initially sentenced to two years in prison in November 2021, but authorities reduced it to one year in June 2022. His lawyer’s appeal against this decision was unsuccessful.

In his defence statement Pastor Keshav expressed that carrying religious materials and discussing his faith when asked should not be classified as forced conversion. His defence lawyer argued that these acts are protected by Nepal’s Constitution, which ensures freedom of religion. The court rejected this justification, which raised concerns among Christians regarding the Nepalese legal system’s commitment to religious freedom. This incident underlines the irregularities in judicial systems that are supposed to guarantee civil rights.

The International Christian Concern has reported an increase in incidents of violence and harassment against Christians in Nepal. Even though Nepal is no longer an official Hindu state, most harassment comes from radical Hindu groups who want the country to return to Hinduism. There have been accounts of attacked churches and attempts to humiliate Christians. If a family discovers a member is a Christian, they might expel them from their home or violently attack them. Authorities put limits on religious rights, force anti-conversion laws and close down churches. 


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