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NEWS AND INVESTIGATIONS - MARCH 2005
 


FECRIS application for participatory/consultative (NGO status)
with the Council of Europe

FECRIS (European Federation of Research and Information Centres on Sects) acts as an umbrella organization for national "anti-cult" groups from different European countries. The message spread by FECRIS is an alarmist one whereby they attempt to create a generalized and derogatory classification of "sect" which is labelled 'dangerous'. Their propaganda is primarily aimed at including most minority religious groups into this categorization and lobbying governments to accept this unscientific concept.

FECRIS have applied for participatory status with the Council of Europe (a special non-government organisation status). Procedurally, any application is first examined and approved or disapproved by the Secretary General of the organisation. This decision is made public and, if after 3 months it is not contested by Members of the Parliamentary Assembly or one of the Member States, it then becomes permanent.

In the case of FECRIS, the Secretary General approved the application for participatory status. However, some Members of the Parliamentary Assembly opposed this which brought about the appointment of a rapporteur to investigate the issue further. Mr. Marty of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights was assigned this responsibility.

On the 17th May 2004 a report was issued that had been adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights confirming, in the opinion of the Committee, that FECRIS should be granted participatory status. This was despite the fact that in 7 countries FECRIS groups and its members have been convicted more than a dozen of times during the last 15 years by courts for actions ranging from false imprisonment to defamation, actions which are totally incompatible with the Council of Europe's standards and so should exclude them from gaining such status.

This decision was made possible only because the rapporteur chose to construct a set of completely arbitrary procedural rules which enabled him to ignore the above court convictions and other relevant evidence. The report is faulty on both factual and procedural grounds.

The next stage of the adoption procedure required that the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly (President, Vice-Presidents and Chairmen of the political groups) review the report and either pass it on to the plenary session for debate and vote or else, should they find there are points in the report that need review, then they are able to refer the report to another committee or back to the same committee for additional investigation.

Fortunately, the Bureau saw that there were potential violations of procedure due to the methods adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights rapporteur, and so the report was referred to the Committee on Rules of Procedures and Immunities the 24th May 2004.

On the 10th December 2004 the Committee on Rules of Procedures and Immunities adopted an opinion and sent this back to the Bureau. The opinion was very poorly done and does not reflect the high standards that the Council of Europe embodies. It endorsed the arbitrary procedure used by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights by saying that the FECRIS case was a 'specific case' and that this should not set a precedent for other cases. It would seem obvious that every group that is challenged would be a 'specific case', therefore the only logical development from this is that other groups would have other standards and procedures for their own 'specific cases' applied to them.

On the 10th January, the Bureau re-examined the FECRIS application and it was decided that the report should go back to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights for further examination.

 


UPDATE :

A revised report has now been prepared by the secretariat and the rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights which makes only cosmetic changes to the report. The only difference will be that the report will not propose that it sets a precedent for future instances when NGOs are examined for suitability (the original report proposed that the methods used for examination by NGOs should be a precedent for the future).

As mentioned above, this change sets double standards. How can one standard apply for one group and another set of standards apply for a different one?

The real reason for this double talk is that significant evidence against FECRIS is not being taken into account. The dozen of convictions against FECRIS member groups and individuals that exist over the last 10 years or so have not been taken into account.

The report is on the agenda of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights for the 2nd March and has even been put on the agenda of the Standing Committee (a Council of Europe body that can give final approval to reports) on the 18th March.

It would be a major embarrassment for the Council of Europe to allow such a group to have consultative status and these matters have to be examined before anything else can

It is therefore vital that this Committee examine the matter properly this time, taking into account all available facts and compare these to the standards that have to be met by groups applying for consultative status as laid down in existing Council of Europe resolutions. This must be done without any bias or hidden agenda as appears to have taken place in the past and which has concerned the Bureau and threatened to bring the Council of Europe into disrepute.

 


In order to express your concern about FECRIS becoming a privileged counsellor of the European Parliament, you can send emails to the members of the committee of legal affairs of Human Rights

More information on Relation between FECRIS' members and China :
FECRIS_ELC 2005.pdf
GB
More FACTS on FECRIS members :
FECRIS_information_2005.pdf
GB

 

 

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MIVILUDES publishes its ‘ Manual for Inquisitor’s use

M.I.VI.LU.DE.S stands for Mission Interministérielle de VIgilance et LUtte contre les DErives Sectaires i.e. under the Prime Minister authority since November 2002, Interministerial mission meant to control and fight against cult drifts.
January 13th 2005 , 20 000 items of an 120 - page booklet have been issued by the MIVILUDES and should be dispatched in all administrative sectors of French Civil Service: Guideline against cult drifts for civil servant’s use.
We cannot help comparing the present guideline with the Manual for Inquisitor’s use which Bernard Guy - a Dominican and an Inquisitor - wrote in the 14th century.
Thérèse Jamin - a history researcher - is quoted as writing : ‘the Manual [ for Inquisitor’s use] deals with different forms of heresy and teaches the art to identify them therefore to unmask and to condemn a heretic person’.
Hasn’t got the present guideline the same function? As a matter of fact, we discover that each civil servant will have to ‘point out and inform’.
Notwithstanding according to the MILIVUDES :’ the notion of pointing out doesn’t appear in legal and regulation texts’ (p.42), the guideline offers the means to flush out the guilty persons thanks to ‘ hints about how to point out and inform: a standard card’. (p.51).
Quoting again Thérèse Jamin: ‘ Tribunals of the Inquisition were designed by pope Innocent III and meant to investigate, flush out the heretics, charge and prosecute them [...]. The Inquisitor got about and searched out heretics’.
In its guideline, the MIVILUDES laments about the few present procedures at disposal : ‘ the fact remains that there is still but a small number of procedures: this could be explained among others by scarce claims and the lack of information that is pointed out ‘(p.24). This guideline ties up the Manual of Bernard Guy and gives ‘ tools for action. Twelve topics for thought to test a group there is concern over. (p.47) as for example: ‘ are they taught there things about how the world or the human being works in a very different way from what is usually taught?’ (p.47). This would be indeed a heresy!
The authors of the guideline (Manual?) also had to take up a challenge in giving the purpose and the limits of the subject : what is a cult? Quoting again Thérèse Jamin: ‘ to establish a person’s [guilt], the Inquisitor had to outmanoeuvre the skilfulness of the accused person. Quoting the MIVILUDES p.66: ‘ the lack of legal definition of cults makes it difficult for Civil Service’. As if - such as a heretic - a citizen hunt by the MIVILUDES were cunning enough to legally disappear.
The booklet does not give any new element on the present situation of the ‘ cultural creative people’ who represent indeed the sole target of the guideline.
The writers preferred to keep the good old recipes which after 30 years have now been creating the present climate of paranoia against some groups who are only wrong because they instil new ideas into the society. Emphasis is thus placed on rumours, lumped together notions , generalisations, evidence and prosecution.
Whilst during his New Year Greetings President Jacques Chirac wished ‘ a more democratic, voluntary and powerful Europe’ letting ‘ France to weigh more among the European Union member states’, this guideline is a step backwards in the field of freedom of conscience and calls for methods from another age.
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