This is the question indeed … and the president of Miviludes has the astonishing ability to state completely opposite answers within a few hours’ time. On 19 May 2009, Georges Fenech answered Angélique Negroni’s questions in daily Le Figaro, which quoted Fenech in its title: “A new list of sectarian groups is needed.”

 The journalist asked him: “Is a list of cults necessary again?” He answered: “We are working on a reference standard that is updated regularly. The point is to create a referential including groups with sectarian abuses… I am waiting for the Prime Minister’s decision to make it available to the public on the Internet like in Belgium. I am in favor of it because this answers a true need for information.”

The next day, on TV France 24, Fenech, who had apparently been criticized for his comments, said: “No, there is no list and we don’t intend to make a list of cults. We don’t care about this, this isn’t our field of competence.”  He even went so far as saying, in December 2009, that he never supported the issuing of such a list. In a filmed interview he declared: “I never proposed to make a list of cults public….”

 What is the truth? Well, in the same interview he indicates: “We want to have a referential, only on the basis of the complaint letters we receive.” Which plainly means that Miviludes will not be bothered to check the facts, but that letters sent to his office (what they call “signalling”) about any group will be enough for it to be entered on the list.

 Moreover, Fenech repeatedly indicated that the groups listed would have access to data concerning them in the referential so that they can set the record straight. “Courrier des Maires” announced in November that the list would be available from the authorities, but when several groups applied to consult the list, Miviludes refused this right.

 This absence of transparency concerns only new religious groups. The public at large, too, is refused access to the true activities of Miviludes. Miviludes’ activity report of 2009, given to the Prime Minister in April 2010, stated: “But our collaboration should be mentioned with the intelligence, investigation and instruction services, as well as with the bodies of international cooperation. This dimension of our mission can only be brought to the knowledge of public in a general and non-specific manner.”

 What is there to hide? To start with, the funding of Miviludes. Their funding is shrouded and any request for transparency sent in accordance with the FOI law has been rejected. Miviludes is possibly the only government body whose finances have not been made public.

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