Dear Madame Anne Brasseur,
My name is Raffaella di Marzio and I’m a researcher in Psychology of Religion in Italy. Since 1994 I have been studying, from a psychological and educational point of view, minority religions, also named New Religious Movements, and very often called “sects” or “cults”, a derogatory word, usually used for stigmatizing religious minorities.
I wanted to draw your attention on the report drafted by Rudy Salles, a French MP and member of the French delegation at PACE. The report was adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the PACE, on Monday March 3, 2014. This report will be voted upon during the second part session of the PACE, starting the 7th of April in Strasbourg. This report is presented as a wish to protect children from harmful treatments, inside “sects”, but, according to my experience and my studies in this field, it is posing a real threat for children and parents belonging to religious minorities in every country of the Council of Europe
Here is the report:
In particular, I wanted to draw your attention on an idea which is repeated many times in the Rudy Salles’ report: the idea that “sects” perpetrate psychological abuses on children, the so called “mind manipulation” crime. Here are three excerpts from the report:
The Assembly is particularly concerned about the influence which sect-like movements can have on minors, given the latter’s vulnerability. It strongly condemns the “excesses of sects”, namely acts which have the purpose or effect of creating, maintaining or exploiting a state of psychological or physical submission in an individual, causing harm to that individual or for society. Such excesses may cause human rights violations, particularly in terms of the health, physical and psychological integrity, schooling and social and emotional development of minors, who are often removed from their family environment and/or cut off from any outside contact. (p.1)
What interests us in the context of preparing this report is “excesses of sects”, which, according to the French Inter-Ministerial Mission for Vigilance and action Against Sectarian Excesses (MIVILUDES), are characterised by “the use of pressure or techniques which have the purpose or effect of creating, maintaining or exploiting a state of psychological or physical submission in an individual, causing harm to that individual or for society (p.4)