Authorities in the province of Savannakhet, located in Laos, have declared that praying for the healing of the sick is in violation of the government’s health care law.
In a report that has surprised and disturbed Christians in the region, the provincial authorities ruling was published following the arrest and conviction of five Christians for having prayed for a dying women.
“The religious ceremony to pray for the healing of the sick, in accordance with their religious worship, is a violation of Article 41 and 42 of the health care law”, the reports states, adding that prayer “is an abuse of medical profession”.
According to Fides, a local NGO, ‘Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom’, quickly denounced the report stating that it is in “direct violation of the Constitution and laws of Laos.”
The group cited several articles of the Constitution, including article 9 which says that “the state respects and protects all lawful activities of Buddhists and other religious denominations.” Article 30, they noted, states: “The citizens of Laos have the right and freedom to believe or not to believe in religion”.
The Report of the provincial authorities of Savannakhet establishes that “praying for the sick is an illegal activity; thus “it removes the right and freedom of belief guaranteed by the Constitution”, the NGO stated.
Moreover, the decision goes against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the government of Laos. Local Christians are appealing the government of Laos to ensure that provisions that violate the general laws of the state are not adopted at a local or provincial level, and for the provision of Savannakhet to be revoked.