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CULT IN FRANCE : NEWS
July 2007

 


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Paturel v. France: A personal story behind the case

By Regis Dericquebourg, Maitre de conférences, University of Lille III

HRWF (20.06.2007) – Website: http://www.hrwf.net

Christian Paturel, lawyer and Jehovah’s Witness has published “La pensée unique face aux spiritualités. Le choc des mondes” (Individual thought confronted with spirituality. The shock of the worlds) at L’Harmattan Publishing House managed by Dominique Kounkou. In this book he recounts the difficulties he faced in his career as a lawyer while being a Jehovah’s Witness. After the self publication of the book “Sects, religions and public freedoms”, by La Pensée Universelle (now bankrupt), he was disbarred by the bar association of Privas (Ardèche). His family life was shaken by it but his family remained united. He experienced financial difficulties, a financial audit by the tax department and had to move to Normandy. The anticult organization Unadfi opened a lawsuit for slandering and he was found guilty and condemned.

Obtaining justice then became one of his life goals. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of him in the Paturel v. France case on 22nd of December 2005 (Judgment n°54968/00.) The Court recognized that Article 10 on freedom of expression had been violated. France was charged to pay for damages. This court decision echoes the recent judgment in the case opposing a Bulgarian Evangelical to her country, Ivanova v. Bulgaria.

Since the court decision Mr. Christian Paturel has given up the practice of his legal profession to dedicate himself to his evangelization mission. He says he found in it a deserved spiritual peace because even though he deals with his troubles with humor we can perceive his suffering and a personal injury.His case recalls that of a Canadian restaurant owner, a Jehovah’s Witness who got ruined as a result of attacks provoked by religious discrimination.
This book deserves to be translated into English.

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The State issues a decision on freedom of assembly

Source : Website: http://www.hrwf.org

Each year the 4,500 Jehovah Witnesses of the Lyon area meet for the celebration commemorating the Memorial symbolized by the word of Christ: “Continue to do this in memory of me.” (Gospel according to Luke, chapter 22, verse 19.)However, since the publication of the parliamentary report on sects in December 1995 the city of Lyon systematically refuses the possibility of renting any public rooms, even though the town has been condemned eight times in ten years by the administrative court of Lyon.

Following a new refusal for a request for renting a location at the beginning of 2007 the Jehovah Witnesses of Lyon raised the issue with the Judge of the administrative tribunal to uphold their right to practice their religion. On the 15th of March 2007 the judge deemed that the city was responsible of illegally threatening the fundamental freedom of assembly. The judge issued an injunction towards the city of Lyon ordering them to rent a public room to the Jehovah Witnesses for their cultural celebration.

The city appealed this decision in front of the State Council. On the 30th of March 2007 the High Jurisdiction confirmed the decision of the judge of the administrative tribunal of Lyon.

On the 2nd of April 2007 the Jehovah Witnesses of Lyon were able to use the “Victor Hugo” Municipal room for their memorial celebration.

State Council, ord. ref. 30 March 2007, City of Lyon, n 304053

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Will ministerial subsidies again compensate the expenses tied
with the blunders of the CCMM?

CAPLC (31.05.2007)/ source : http://www.hrwf.net

On 7th May last, Daniel Groscolas, the president of CCMM[1] was convicted and sentenced by the first chamber of the TGI[2] of Marseille to pay 2500 Euro to the CAP (Association for Freedom of Conscience) following libelous statements published on the CCMM website.*

Even though the association he presides over is almost completely financed by the State and from the same entity required to adhere to a certain neutrality and the respect of laïcité, Daniel Groscolas chose discriminatory and extremist remarks in referring to the CAP (Association for Freedom of Conscience), a group that defends members of religious minorities.*

How, in France, can public funds be used to finance an association that publishes such remarks against an organization that defends Human Rights?

In 2001, the CCMM had already bought several sumptuous premises thanks to an extraordinary subsidy of 4 million Francs by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. Some time later, the building was sold by the CCMM to replenish its empty bank accounts!“

Over a period of several years the statutes of the association have not always been respected; we are trying to re-establish a legal method of functioning” Daniel Groscolas himself stated, at the time the new president of the CCMM! Will the new government be as generous to the CCMM?

HRWF Footnotes
(1) CCMM: Centre contre la Manipulation Mentale (Center Against Mental Manipulation)
(2) TGI: Tribunal de Grande Instance

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Mrs. Picard (UNADFI) condemned for defamation of Jehovah's Witnesses

AFP (20.07.2007)/ HRWF
Source : Website: http://www.hrwf.org

The Court of Appeals in Rouen on Wednesday, July 18th, condemned the president of the National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and Individuals (UNADFI), Catherine Picard, to pay 6,750 Euros to the Jehovah's Witnesses for defamation; it has been learned from judicial sources.
The court has also declared null a decision by the tribunal of Evreux that had pronounced on October 26, 2006 a discharge in favor of Catherine Picard.

The sum granted in reparation of "moral damage" will be divided between eight associations belonging to the Jehovah's Witnesses whose headquarters is in Louviers, Department of Eure.

The Jehovah's Witnesses had brought suit for defamation against Catherine Picard, who is also Socialist Party regional counselor in Haute Normandie, for statements in October 2005 to the newspaper Dépêche d'Evreux wherein she accused them of "being organized as all mafia-like movements in the fashion of a pyramid."

According to the verdict cited by the Jehovah's Witnesses, the court found that Catherine Picard had "in excessive fashion and by a tendentious presentation thrown discredit upon the Jehovah's Witnesses and . . . given her excessive statements utterly devoid of good faith had gone beyond the limits of acceptable free opinion."

The court also pointed out that the Jehovah's Witnesses enjoy the formal status of a religious association, a fact known to Catherine Picard.
(*) Original article in French. Translation by HRWF Int'l.

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