Religious Minorities Express Concern Over Kosovo's Draft Law

Religious minorities, including evangelical Christians, have expressed concern over the restrictions of the law under discussion by Kosovo's government. The new draft law, which believers in Kosovo fear will hinder their freedom, has caused a growing disquietude in the landlocked nation.

AMG International's Paul Jenks says very concerned about the potential impact of the law on ministry, which has been working in Kosovo for more than three years.

"We've been ministering with an outreach to children, and doing a technical training center, and we have an agricultural school,” Jenks told Mission Network News (MNN). “We're especially concerned about the 'House of Laughter' school there that, in fact, a law such as this might impact us to not be able to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the children that we serve."

According to Norway-based Forum 18, Kosovo’s religious minorities say that many of the draft law’s provisions—such as an apparent ban on religious activities by communities not registered with a new religious affairs commission, the requirement for new religious communities to have 500 members to gain registration and the ban on foreign leaders—violate international human rights norms.

Some of Kosovo's religious minorities as well as the Kosovo office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have expressed concern over a draft religion law.

"Apparently there is a movement there by some of the political figures there to severely restrict the use of evangelism and religious content in any of the work that is being done there for humanitarian purposes," Jenks told MNN.

According to MNN, any draft law, once approved by the Kosovo government, goes to the assembly, where committees discuss it before being presented for both preliminary and final approval by the full assembly.

The first religious group to make written comments on the draft was the Evangelical Movement of Kosova, which brings together several Albanian-speaking Protestant churches.

"We believe the rights of religious freedom within the Protestant community of Kosovo will be seriously hindered should the existing draft of this Law on Religious Freedom be adopted in its present form," it declared in a Nov. 15 statement received by Forum 18.

Forum 18, which monitors religious persecution in Communist and former Soviet states, issued a report on the controversial draft law on Nov. 19 after receiving a copy of the unsigned draft dated Nov. 12.