World news – Kazakhstan: new restrictions

Churches in prisons have been closed and Christian literature confiscated from prisoners since restrictive new religion laws came into force in October.

The first known closure took place at the end of October in the Almaty Region. Work to build the church had been begun in 2008 by 12 volunteer prisoners, five of whom were baptised during the course of its construction. The Justice Ministry had approved the project.

On October 21, religious literature, including Bibles and New Testaments, were confiscated from prisoners at a detention camp in Zhetikara in Kostanai Region. The camp authorities claimed that the law banned prisoners from having such material, though the Association of Religions in Kazakhstan said it was allowed for personal use.

There have also been reports of ministers being denied access to prisons to conduct services, as well as the closure of a prayer room used by Christians in a home for disabled people in Almaty.

There are 63 Christian places of worship and prayer rooms in Kazakh prisons.

Barnabas Fund