The constitution specifies the state is secular and protects the rights of all citizens to exercise their religious beliefs, consistent with the nation’s laws. Religious groups other than Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims must register with the government in a procedure that includes providing the religious credentials of leadership, financial information, and plans for religious facilities and satisfying the government’s ethical criteria. Many religious groups applied for registration, but by year’s end a large number of these applications had not been approved. In September the government presented the cabinet with a new regulation on worship practices, including means of addressing disputes between religious groups, on which it had solicited input on the legislation from representatives of 11 religious federations.
Disputes among religious groups were frequently related to noise caused by religious celebrations, or competition for parishioners between churches. Members of different religious groups frequently attended each other’s ceremonies, and interfaith marriage was common.
The U.S. embassy met with the Ministry of Territorial Administration (MTA) during the year to discuss religious freedom, and also regularly met with religious leaders to discuss religious freedom.