OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2016: Freedom of Religion or Belief September 2016

 CAP  is  an  association  created  in  2000  to  unite  minority  religions  in  Europe  to  counter  discrimination  concerning  the  rig ht  to  freedom  of  conscience and belief. It has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

For years France has put in place a discriminatory apparatus of fight against minorities of religion or belief stigmatize d as “sects”.

Since 2009, the Inter-ministerial Mission of Vigilance and Fight against  Sectarian  Deviances  (MIVILUDES)  holds  a  repository  of  records  on  hundreds of movements it characterized as “sectarian” on the sole basis of  denouncements or complaints against minority belief  movements. These  records  are  provided  by  MIVILUDES  to  Judges,  Prosecutors,  personnel  dealing with Youth and Family matters, Ministries and other officials.    In parallel, training sessions on “sects” are regularly delivered to these officials, in particular Judges and Police forces.  A special anti-sect Task Force has been created, CAIMADES (Assistance and Intervention Unit for Sectarian Drifts), within the Central Direction of the Judiciary Police which  undertakes investigations as soon as an individual  is suspected to belong  to a “sect”.   Since its creation in 2009,

This  Task  Force  has  proceeded  to  biased  investigations  upon  the  denouncements  received  by  MIVILUDES,  where  the members of minorities were systematically presumed guilty.   CAP received a number of testimonies over the years  which evidence  their  prejudice,  such  people  suspected  of  shamanist ic  practices  whose  homes were raided and were put in custody, groups o f persons denounced  to MIVILUDES as “dangerous sects” who were interrogated and put under  pressure  to  denounce  their  “guru”,  others  denounced   as  being  “gurus”  who were put in preventive detention for up to 18 months, etc.   Coordination of Associations and   Individuals for Freedom of Conscience (CAP) CAP Liberté de Conscience

The last testimony and request of assistance received by CAP was from  a man of Indian origin residing in Canada. His girl friend in France was  organizing  meditation  seminars  and  was  denounced  to   MIVILUDES  as  such. During his last visit to her, they were part  of group of 6-7 people in  meditation  when  a  whole  police  force  raided  and  arrested  them.

They were all armed and behaved as if they were dealing with terrorists.   He was explained that the charges against him were that he “had used fraudulent techniques to manipulate weak minds to defraud them of their money” and “had used Indian techniques and created  mysterious Indian  atmosphere to influence these people” and that he “ belonged to the sect  of sex guru OSHO”.   This man could not understand the accusations since  “guru” in India  simply  means  religious  leader  and  a  sect  is  simply  a  religious  denomination.  He  was  put  in  preventive  detention  fo r  six  months  with  prohibition  to  leave  France  and  has  been  waiting  for  trial  for  now  two  years.   The apparatus set by France to fight against minorities of religion or belief is unduly repressive and discriminatory, and should be disbanded.

We  respectfully  ask  OSCE  to  remind  the  French  authorities  of  their  obligations  concerning  freedom  of  religion  or  belie f  and  the  rights  of  minorities in France.

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