The constitution provides for the free exercise of all religions and faiths. The constitution asserts, “no one may be compelled to belong to a religious organization or to follow a religious teaching contrary to his convictions.” The law establishes the conditions for recognition and practice of religions and faiths. The practitioners of Vodou registered as a religious group, but were not granted civil recognition for marriages and baptisms or the right to issue certain documents. By law, the government provided funds and services to the Catholic Church but not to other religious groups, such as Protestant denominations or the Muslim community. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religious Denominations (MFA) did not act on a pending request to register the Muslim community or give an explanation to the National Council of Muslims. The council did not renew its request during the year. Many nondenominational Christian and Muslim groups said they operated without registering.
Vodou community leaders stated Vodou practitioners continued to experience some social stigmatization for their beliefs and practices. According to sources, Catholic and Protestant schools, teachers and administrators at times openly rejected and condemned Vodou culture and customs as contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Government officials and dignitaries representing the country’s diverse religious groups paid tribute at the funeral of the Vodou supreme leader, who died in September. Muslim leaders stated they saw a positive trend in societal attitudes towards Islam.
U.S. embassy officials met with the government to advocate fair and equal treatment of all religious groups. They met with the Director General of Religious Denominations (DG) and key religious leaders to reinforce the importance of religious freedom. Embassy representatives also met with faith-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and religious leaders to seek their views on religious freedom.