Although the government granted official recognition to the Voodoo religion in 2003, enabling registration of Voodoo places of worship with the MFA, Voodoo priests were still unable to obtain the official registration required for civil recognition of their marriages. The director general (DG) of Religious Denominations, however, stated the MFA would register them in an official ceremony as soon as the president was available to preside over it. In the interim, the MFA accepted files requesting such recognition.
The MFA did not act on the pending request for recognition of Islam or communicate a reason for the inaction to the National Council of Muslims. The council did not make a new request during the year. Unlike Christians married in a church by a registered member of the clergy, Muslims married in a religious ceremony did not receive government recognition and needed to go through a civil court to obtain such recognition.
The government provided financial support for the maintenance of Catholic churches and to some Catholic schools. This system of financial support was not available to other religious groups, although the Protestant Federation began negotiations with the MFA in an attempt to receive similar financial support from the national budget.
Many nondenominational Christian groups as well as Muslims operated informally and did not seek official recognition. Religious leaders noted the government’s hesitancy to extend recognition to Islam.
Organized missionary groups and missionaries affiliated with a wide range of religious groups operated privately funded hospitals, clinics, schools, and orphanages. Foreign missionaries often entered as tourists and submitted paperwork to the MFA similar to that required of domestic religious groups.
The authorities generally permitted prisoners and detainees to exercise their religious beliefs freely and have access to a Protestant minister, Catholic priest, or Voodoo leader, when they were available. Government sources stated institutional capacity restricted their ability to provide the full range of religious services requested by Muslims, particularly in facilities outside Port-au-Prince. Volunteers provided religious services in some prisons.
Protestant and Catholic clergy reported good working relationships with the government. The Catholic Church and Protestant groups also ran schools and provided social services the government was unable to provide. In return, religious leaders reported that the government listened to their concerns and requests.