Three students were expelled from their public schools, allegedly for their religious beliefs, and one church leader reported that authorities denied a land sale to his church because it was not registered.
For the second year in a row, students were reportedly expelled from their public schools because of their religious beliefs. A Seventh-day Adventist leader reported that in September teachers and staff of a public secondary school in Lospalos expelled three students because of the students’ religious affiliation. The police reported that they were unaware of students being expelled because of religious affiliation but, in a system where the school week is Monday through Saturday, they knew of students expelled for missing multiple Saturdays. According to the church leader, following a meeting with local government officials, the Ministry of Education declared that it fully respected religious freedom, but it failed to reinstate the students.
A Protestant church reported that its attempt to purchase land for a new church was rejected by local and national authorities. Church members said the authorities stated the denial was because the church was not properly registered. The immigration and asylum law requires churches with primarily foreign members to register with the secretary of state for security.
The ban on foreigners providing religious services to defense and security forces did not unduly restrict the work of missionaries.
The government provided some funding to religious organizations to support activities and help in the construction or rehabilitation of places of worship, usually on the basis of a request for assistance. For example, the government funded requests from the Catholic Church and the main Dili mosque for new construction and building maintenance. Some Protestant leaders said that they had never been invited to take part in discussions about government support or to apply for funds. Others said they had never heard of government funding for religious development and had no intension of applying for it. The majority of funds for Protestant church building projects came from foreign donors.