HRWF (10.07.2023) – On June 26, the Federal Observatory on Cults (CIAOSN/ IACSSO), formally referred to as the “Middle for Knowledge and Recommendation on Destructive Cultic Organizations” and created through the legislation of June 2, 1998 (amended through the legislation of April 12, 2004), printed quite a few “Suggestions relating to lend a hand for sufferers of cultic affect“.
On this record, the Observatory issues out that its intention is to “struggle the unlawful practices of cults”.
Unlawful practices of cults
At the beginning, it must be emphasised that the idea that of “cult” (secte in French) isn’t a part of world legislation. Any spiritual, non secular, philosophical, theistic or non-theistic workforce, or any of its participants, can hotel a criticism for alleged violation of freedom of faith or trust. Many have completed so effectively in Eu nations, together with on the Eu Court docket of Human Rights at the foundation of Article 9 of the Eu Conference:
“Everybody has the best to freedom of idea, sense of right and wrong and faith; this proper comprises freedom to modify his faith or trust and freedom, both on my own or in neighborhood with others and in public or non-public, to manifest his faith or trust, in worship, instructing observe and observance.”
Secondly, cults are legally unimaginable to spot. The e-newsletter of a listing of 189 in all probability suspect teams connected to the Belgian parliamentary record on cults in 1998 used to be extensively criticized on the time for its stigmatizing instrumentalization, in particular however now not best through the media. It used to be after all identified that it had no prison price and may just now not be used as a prison record in courts.
Thirdly, the Eu Court docket of Human Rights lately passed down a judgment relating to Tonchev and Others v. Bulgaria of December 13, 2022 (Nr 56862/15), opposing Evangelicals to the Bulgarian state over the distribution through a public authority of a brochure caution towards unhealthy cults, together with their faith. Specifically, the Court docket declared:
Paragraph 52 of the judgment lists different instances comparable to “Leela Förderkreis e.V. and Others v. Germany” and “Centre of Societies for Krishna Awareness In Russia and Frolov v. Russia“, through which using the derogatory time period “cult” used to be disavowed through the Eu Court docket and now serves as case legislation. See additionally a statement at the Eu Court docket’s judgment through Massimo Introvigne in Sour Wintry weather below the name “Eu Court docket of Human Rights: Governments must now not name minority religions ‘cults’.”
The legit venture of the Belgian Cult Observatory is due to this fact intrinsically and really obviously at odds with the Eu Court docket in stigmatizing so-called “damaging cultic organizations,” an clearly derogatory system.
The usage of derogatory phrases concentrated on homosexuals, Africans or some other human teams is forbidden through legislation. It must now not be other with spiritual or trust teams.
Final however now not least: Via whom, how and in step with what standards of “harmfulness” may just “damaging cultic organizations” be legally known?
The Observatory’s mandate may be intrinsically contradictory.
At the one hand, its venture is to struggle so-called “unlawful practices” of cults, which should due to this fact be certified as such through a last judgment and now not prior to.
Alternatively, its venture may be to “struggle damaging cultic organizations”, which will also be completed with none judicial choice regarding the teams to be focused. The neutrality of the state is obviously at stake right here, particularly as many “cults” or their participants have gained fairly quite a few instances in Strasbourg towards Eu states at the foundation of Article 9 of the Eu Conference protective freedom of faith or trust.
The venture of the Belgian Cult Observatory at risk of a criticism in Strasbourg
Those sides of the Observatory’s venture won’t resist a criticism to the Eu Court docket.
Certainly, we must now not disregard the sudden collateral results of a contemporary “peculiar” criticism relating to discriminatory taxation lodged in Strasbourg through an area congregation of the Jehovah’s Witness motion, handled as a cult through the Belgian Cult Observatory and the Belgian State government. The Eu Court docket then roundly criticized the overall loss of any prison foundation for state popularity of spiritual and philosophical teams, which used to be now not a part of the criticism, and known as on Belgium to conform to world legislation.
On 5 April 2022, within the case Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Anderlecht and Others v. Belgium (utility no. 20165/20) a few discriminatory taxation factor against Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Eu Court docket of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there were:
“a contravention of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) learn at the side of Article 9 (freedom of idea, sense of right and wrong and faith) of the Eu Conference on Human Rights.”
It additionally held, unanimously, that Belgium used to be to pay the applicant affiliation 5,000 euros (EUR) in recognize of prices and bills.
The Court docket additionally famous that neither the factors for popularity nor the process resulting in popularity of a religion through the federal authority had been laid down in an device fulfilling the necessities of accessibility and foreseeability, which have been inherent within the perception of the rul
Belgium has now installed position a operating workforce to revise a posteriori the state popularity of spiritual and philosophical organizations. Belgium must higher look ahead to any other factor relating to its cult coverage and practice the instance of Switzerland with its Centre for Knowledge on Ideals (CIC).