On 7th April the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will vote on a report regarding “the protection of minors against excesses of sects”. The rapporteur Rudy Salles (France) recommends for Europe to adopt the french anti-sect line, in order to protect children from abuses. In the report he juxtaposes the French and the Swedish ways to relate to minority religions and surprisingly finds that the much criticised french anti-sect line with MIVILUDES and FECRIS would be better suited for the future of Europe.
We consider that an adoption of the report would only contribute to stigmatise new religious movements, and fail to essentially protect the childrens’ fundamental rights.
For more information please see article by sect expert DiMarzio on her blog “Spirituality, religion and sectarianism”
Background and information from Coordination of Associations and Individuals for the Freedom of Conscience (CAP)
- We express our concern regarding the above mentioned report on the protection of minors against the influence of sects which, if drafted, might affect in the future the freedom of association and religion and it also might create a medium of intolerance regarding religious minorities in the European Union.
- Furthermore, we express our concern that the proposal of Rapporteur and French Parliamentarian Rudy Salles is too harsh and too similar to the controversial French policies towards minority religious movements as represented by MIVILUDES- the actions of which were highly criticized around the world, including by the United States and humanitarian organizations worldwide.
- The proposed measures recommended in the Report by Mr. Salles who is a strong supporter of MIVILUDES have in view families of minority religious organizations and their right of raising their children as they see fit, which is a fundamental right of all members of minority religious groups, quite numerous across the European Union. Creating an atmosphere of hostility towards them is, we consider, far from what freedom should mean.
- The report and resolution are biased and present the danger of stigmatizing religious minorities and their right of raising their children according to their belief. The information presented by Mr. Salles is unclear, not sufficiently supported by proof and only takes into account one side of the matter, disregarding the point of view of the very religious minorities it has in view.
- Although Europe is not, in fact, facing a real problem with sect movement, nor any effect on minors, Mr. Salles claims otherwise without clear evidence in this respect. Furthermore, his conclusions and recommendations blatantly violate freedom of religious minorities and even human rights as such, from the use of the term ‘sect’ to stigmatize religious minorities, interfering in the families’ right of educating their members as they see appropriate to the even more grave issues like creating ‘Observations Centres’ lacking full independence or of asking financial help from the supposedly neutral governments of Member States in order to prevent the actions of so-called sects.
- Considering all these and even more debatable points present in the Report, we consider that it does not foster religious freedom of minorities, it is far from promoting an atmosphere of pluralism and tolerance and it basically constitutes a threat to fundamental human rights as all NGOs, Soteria International included, see them.
- As the Report and Resolution need further clarification and attention, we invite fellow NGO members and members of Human Rights Organizations to express their point of view and concern regarding the implementation of some recommendation which are biased and even intolerant, and we recommend the Report and Resolution be reviewed, studied again and reformulated in a more transparent, tolerant and respectful manner.