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Pastor Keshav Raj Acharya header.jpg
Pastor Keshav Raj Acharya.jpg
World News

Pastor sentenced to 2 years in prison for preaching in Nepal

by Heather Preston

A pastor in Nepal faces a two-year prison sentence after being charged with proselytization.

In Nepal the act of preaching your faith with the intent to convert others is illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison.

On 30th November, Pastor Keshav Raj Acharya of the Abundant Harvest Church in Pokhara, Nepal, was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of 20,000 rupees (£124).

Pastor Keshav had been imprisoned immediately after being found guilty of the offense eight days earlier.

His lawyers filed an application to Nepal's Supreme Court arguing that his immediate incarceration violated the rules of the Criminal Procedure Code and await to hear it's ruling as to whether the pastor's treatment was fair. 

In 2020, pastor Keshav was arrested by Kaski district police for allegedly uploading a video to YouTube in which he claimed Christian prayer could heal covid-19. Pastor Keshav denies uploading the video.

He was released on bail three months later. 

Human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) says the treatment of pastor Keshav is unjust and is calling on the Supreme Court to intervene.

Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: "CSW is deeply disappointed by the conviction and harsh punishment imposed upon Pastor Keshav Raj Acharya, and we continue to assert that the charges against him are unjust. 

"The fact that the pastor was immediately arrested after he was found guilty, in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code, highlights the Nepalese authorities' disregard for due process and legal procedure, and we urge the Supreme Court to condemn this unfair treatment of the pastor when they convene. 

"We continue to call for Pastor Keshav's full acquittal and immediate and unconditional release."

Anti-conversion laws in the Hindu majority country continue to be used to target Christians, according to research from Christian persecution charity Open Doors.

The charity claims believers in certain areas have also been left out of government covid-19 relief. Many Christian communities there struggle to obtain food, water and work supplies to sustain their livelihoods and are often reduced to low income manual labour.

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