Dear Mrs. Brasseur,
On 7 November 2013, FOREF (Forum for Religious Freedom Europe) submitted a letter to the Secretary General of the Assembly to draw his attention to unequivocal evidence demonstrating that Mr. Rudy Salles, French MP and Rapporteur for the Committee on Legal Affairs Report on “The Protection of Minors Against Sectarian Influence” has acted in a manner that is neither neutral, nor impartial in breach of Rules 1.1.1, 1.1.2 and 1.1.4 of the Code of Conduct for Rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly. I attach herewith a copy of FOREF’s letter for your information.
Despite his lack of neutrality, on March 3, 2014, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights adopted Mr. Salles’ Report entitled “The Protection of Minors against Excesses of Sects” with a recommendation and a resolution included in it. This Report is scheduled to be voted on during the next plenary session in April 2014.
I am writing not only to support FOREF’s complaint against Mr. Salles but to alert you to newly discovered facts that provide further proof that Mr. Salles is in breach of the PACE rules requiring objectivity and neutrality for Rapporteurs. In October 2012, the newspaper Nice Martin interviewed Mr. Salles and reported he had been appointed to the Board of MIVILUDES in October 2012. A copy of that news article dated 22 October 2012 is attached. Given MIVILUDES position and policies on the subject, this, in and of itself, constitutes a serious breach not only of the Code of Conduct for Rapporteurs but also of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly. Mr. Salles should, at the very least, have removed himself as Rapporteur upon acceptance of this appointment.
Reading the Report, it becomes obvious that what was denounced in the FOREF letter is unquestionably true. Indeed, MIVILUDES predetermined the findings and recommendations in the Report even before Mr. Salles started to work on it, as its former President, Mr. Fenech, announced: “[Mr. Fenech] also stated in the article that one of the purposes of the report would be: ‘the creation of a European Observatory on sects’.” Mr. Fenech added in his book that he obtained from the then Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of PACE the appointment of a “pioneer of the anti-sect fight in France”, Mr. Salles, as Rapporteur and “had no problem to convince him to work on the Report as a matter of emergency”.
The breaches of the Code for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly include violation of the General principles of Behaviour:
While performing their mandate as members of the Parliamentary Assembly, members shall:
5.2. take decisions solely in the public interest, without being bound by any instructions that would jeopardise members’ ability to respect the present code;
8. Members shall avoid conflicts between any actual or potential economic, commercial, financial or other interests on a professional, personal or family level on the one hand, and the public interest in the work of the Assembly on the other, by resolving any conflict in favour of public interest; if the member is unable to avoid such a conflict of interests, it shall be disclosed.
11. Members shall not request or accept any fee, compensation or reward intended to affect their conduct as members, particularly in their decision to support or oppose any motion, report, amendment, written declaration, recommendation, resolution or opinion. Members shall avoid any situation that could appear to be a conflict of interests or accept an inappropriate payment or gift.
12. Members shall not use their position as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly to further their own or another person’s or entity’s interests in a manner incompatible with this code of conduct.
Mr. Salle’s appointment as representative of the French National Assembly at the Board of MIVILUDES at the very least constitutes a conflict of interest while undertaking the Report he was in charge of. Indeed, MIVILUDES stated that they were the ones who instigated the Report in order to export the French model to other countries of Europe, and they have been the main source of “information” for Mr. Salles as evidenced by the numerous references to MIVILUDES in the Report presenting it as a “unique” Institution in Europe. This, added to the facts already revealed by FOREF in their original letter, shows clearly that Mr. Salles purpose is to further another entity’s policies and programs, an entity that he was bound to serve due to his position as a member of the Board in violation of the Rules of the Assembly.
MIVILUDES is an internationally discredited organization that has pushed through a series of measures in the area of education and children that seriously jeopardize the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their religious beliefs, a right protected by Article 2 of Protocol N° 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Even the French Ministry of Interior, which is in charge of religious matters, had to distance itself from MIVILUDES, as stated by the Director of the Central Office of Worship (“Bureau Central des Cultes”) at the Ministry in 2006: “The Ministry of Interior is sometimes accused of underestimating the disturbance of public order that would generate by nature, certain movements focused on by the MIVILUDES. I mean some movements that have decades, even centuries of existence and come from great spiritual currents or attach as « Plymouth Brethren », a branch of Protestantism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and in the past few months even the Lubavitch which are the expression of an old tradition of Hasidic Jew. In the Central office of worship we believe we should address issues of public policy with the utmost rigor and focus on facts rather than rumours.”
Olivier Bobineau, a sociologist of religions in charge of the Sociology Department at the College of Economical and Social Sciences of the Catholic Institute of Paris, resigned in 2005 from his position as scientific advisor at MIVILUDES. In January 2006 he started as scientific associate of the Director of the Central Office of Worship. Based on his experience at MIVILUDES, Mr. Bobineau declared in an interview given on 9 June 2009 “MIVILUDES plays the role of administrative police of the mind, which searches for scapegoats and stigmatizes certain groups.”
The evidence unequivocally demonstrates that Mr. Salles is in breach of Code of Conduct for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly. These breaches are serious and will tarnish the reputation of the Assembly if not remedied promptly.
We respectfully ask you to apply points 17 and 18 of the Code of Conduct and carry out an investigation in order to decide what measures should be taken per the Code for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly in such situation.
Thierry Bécourt President
Cc: Mr. Wojciech Sawicki, Secretary General of PACE
Mr. Pedro Agramunt, Chairman of the EPP group at the Parliamentary Assembly
 “Apocalypse, imminent threat?”, Calmann-lévy, pp. 234-235.
 17. If a member is believed to have acted in breach of the code of conduct, the President of the Assembly may seek clarification and further information from the member concerned, the chairperson of the member’s national delegation, the chairperson of the member’s political group or the chairperson of the member’s committee.
18. If necessary, the President of the Assembly may seize the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs to examine the circumstances of the alleged breach and make a recommendation as to a possible decision to be taken by the President.