A group of student fellows in Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic worked with the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief to draft a report that was submitted to the United Kingdom Parliament. This report aims to assist the Nepalese government in ensuring that religious freedom is fully respected throughout Nepal.
Former student fellows Daisy An, Huan Nguyen, and Andrew Scarafile worked alongside pre-eminent scholar and human rights attorney, Mark Hill KC, as part of a parliamentary delegation exploring the state of religious liberty in Nepal, in partnership with Bellwether International.
“The All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief Report on Nepal, which was launched in Parliament today, evaluates the plight of religious minorities in Nepal who seek to fashion their lives in accordance with the teachings of their religious traditions,” said Hill. “It offers constructive advice and support to the government and people of Nepal to help ensure that the country’s laws and their practical implementation accord with international norms and aspirations on religious liberty. The deployment of the skills and expertise of the Religious Liberty Initiative at Notre Dame Law School have made a significant impact on the thoroughness of the Report, and the practicality of its clear recommendations.”
The United Kingdom Parliament will go public with the report on Wednesday, September 13, at 1:00 p.m. (BST) at the UK House of Commons, Committee Room 11. For those who are unable to attend in person, the event will also be live streamed through Zoom, which attendees can access here. The passcode is 948399.
A representative from Bellwether will provide copies of the Nepal report at the in-person meeting. SNP MP Tommy Sheppard; former MP David Burrowes; founder and CEO of Bellwether International, Rachel Miner; and Mark Hill KC will provide remarks at the meeting this Wednesday. There will also be allotted time for questions towards the end of the meeting.
Last winter, the student fellows met with members of Parliament and the UK Ambassador to Nepal. The delegation also met with high-ranking government leaders, including the former Minister of Justice, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Human Rights, and the Attorney General. Moreover, the delegation learned about Christian and Muslim religious leaders currently imprisoned for sharing their beliefs, including one who was preparing a legal filing for his case at the Supreme Court of Nepal.
“The All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief Report on Nepal (Report), represents work performed by the Global Religious Persecution and Immigration section of the Religious Liberty Clinic,” said Kimberlie Orr, the international legal fellow of Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic. “Through this section, our students hone their legal skills and have a tangible impact on confronting religious persecution through the various mechanisms available at the international level. The delegation to Nepal and this follow-up Report demonstrate how governments can work outside of specific international laws and institutions to support the essential rights of vulnerable minority groups throughout the world.”
Former student fellow Andrew Scarafile added, “Working on the Nepal case was one of the most impactful experiences of law school for me. It was eye opening to see how different countries provide such a lower level of protection for free exercise outside of the United States. I was very grateful for the opportunity to contribute my work on such an important case with such high stakes.”
While the Nepalese Constitution nominally protects religious liberty, bans on proselytization still exist, and local police and lower courts often misinterpret laws to punish religious individuals for living according to their faith.
This academic year, Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic will continue its work in defending religious minorities in Nepal, specifically through the Global Religious Persecution and Immigration section of the clinic.
About the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative
Established in 2020, the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative promotes and defends religious freedom for all people through advocacy, formation, and thought-leadership. The initiative protects the freedom of individuals to hold religious beliefs as well as their right to exercise and express those beliefs and to live according to them.
The Religious Liberty Initiative has represented individuals and organizations from an array of faith traditions to defend the right to religious worship, to preserve sacred lands from destruction, to promote the freedom to select religious ministers, and to prevent discrimination against religious schools and families.
Learn more about the Religious Liberty Initiative at religiousliberty.nd.edu.