Rudy Salles fails to export anti-religious policies to the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe

Rudy Salles fails to export anti-religious policies to the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe

PRESS RELEASE

French Euro MP Rudy Salles

French Euro MP Rudy Salles

10. Apr. 2014 – Strasbourg (EIFRF): The recommendations of French MP Rudy Salles which would have had the effect of exporting French anti-religious policies to the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe has not been adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

All Salles´ recommendations – identified by former International Helsinki Federation Director Dr. Aaron Rhodes as “a recipe for discrimination and intolerance” and something that would “provide cover for arbitrary interference in religious life” – were cancelled. Instead, a completely different proposal was proposed and adopted:

“The Assembly therefore calls on the member states to sign and/or ratify the relevant Council of Europe conventions on child protection and welfare if they have not already done so”.

Salles´ proposals to establish information centres, establish a European observatory, carry out specialist training and a range of other actions on groups he derogatorily called ´sects´ – were all rejected by the Parliamentary Assembly.

Over 80 dedicated human rights organizations and experts in criminal law, religious freedom and human rights from throughout the world, as well as a petition signed by more than 10,000 signatories, addressed the President Ms Anne Brasseur and key political figures of the Parliamentary Assembly asking for the proposed antireligious recommendations to be rejected.

While religious minorities still need to be alert to attempts of repressive individuals who try to use government positions to impose restrictive policies, the final resolution protects minors of religious minorities in light of article 9 of the Convention. At the same time it requests the Member States to implement policies of non-discrimination between traditional, non-traditions, new religious movements and “sects”, as can be seen in point 9 of the final resolution:

“9. The Assembly calls on member States to ensure that no discrimination is allowed on the basis of which movement is considered as a sect or not, that no distinction is made between traditional religions and non-traditional religious movements, new religious movements or “sects” when it comes to the application of civil and criminal law, and that each measure which is taken towards non-traditional religious movements, new religious movements or “sects” is aligned with human rights standards as laid down by the European Convention on Human Rights and other relevant instruments protecting the dignity inherent to all human beings and their equal and inalienable rights.”

Attempts by some Parliamentarians to remove the word ´sect´ entirely were rejected – although this was quite contradictory to the main direction of the majority of the amendments that were accepted. This can only be understood in terms of a political compromise where a report, having no factual basis, was thrust upon the Assembly and pushed through on a last-minute basis.

Never-the-less, the fact that all the negative and discriminatory proposals were rejected is a positive sign that the Assembly saw through the attempts of Rudy Salles to impose a model of the French discriminatory approach to religious minorities on the rest of Europe.  

The final version of the Resolution 1992 (2014) is here:

COE-Assembly
SOURCE: European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom
& The All Faiths Network (EIFRF)

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Anti-religiöse Richtlinien des Europaabgeordneten Rudy Salles im Europarat abgelehnt

PRESSE AUSSENDUNG
European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom

Anti-religiöse Richtlinien des Europaabgeordneten Rudy Salles im Europarat abgelehnt

SALLES

Strassburg, 10.4.2014 (EIFRF): Die Empfehlungen des französischen Europaratsabgeordneten Rudy Salles wurden im Europarat nicht angenommen. Er wollte die existierenden französischen antireligiösen Richtlinien in alle 47 europäischen Mitgliedstaaten exportieren. Alle seine Vorschläge wurden gestrichen. Diese waren zuvor vom früheren Direktor der International Helsinki Federation (IHF), Dr. Aaron Rhodes, als ein “Rezept für Diskriminierung und Intoleranz” und etwas, das “als Deckmantel dient um willkürlich in das religiöse Leben einzugreifen” angeprangert worden.

Schließlich wurde seine ursprüngliche Version verworfen und stattdesen eine stark modifizierte Fassung vorgeschlagen und angenommen:

“Der Rat fordert die Mitgliedsländer auf, die relevanten Europarats-Verträge zum Schutz der Kinder und ihrer Fürsorge zu unterzeichnen und/oder zu ratifizieren, sollte dies noch nicht geschehen sein.”

Die Vorschläge von Salles, Informationszentren zu etablieren, ein europäisches Observatorium zu gründen, Spezialausbildungen für Richter, etc. einzuführen und eine Reihe weiterer Massnahmen gegen Gruppen, die er despektierlich “Sekten” nennt, wurden allesamt vom Europarat abgelehnt.

Proteste von über 80 renommierten Menschenrechtsorganisationen und Experten des Strafrechts, der Religionsfreiheit und der Menschenenrechte aus der ganzen Welt sowie eine Petition mit über 10 000 Unterschriften waren zuvor bei der Präsidentin des Europarates, Anne Brasseur und verschiedensten Parlamentariern eingegangen. Sie verlangten, dass die vorgeschlagenen antireligiösen Richtlinien zurückgewiesen werden.

Religiöse Minderheiten müssen jedoch weiterhin wachsam sein, dass einzelne Individuen ihre Regierungspositionen nicht ausnützen, um repressive Richtlinien einzubringen. Die verabschiedete neue Version des Europarates  schützt Minderjährige in religiösen Minderheiten im Sinne von Artikel 9 der Europarats-Konvention. Zur gleichen Zeit  bittet sie die Mitgliedstaaten, Richtlinien zu erlassen, die keinen diskriminierenden Unterschied machen zwischen traditionellen, nicht traditionellen Religionen, neuen religiösen Bewegungen und sogenannten “Sekten”, wie dies in Punkt 9 der endgültigen Resolution zu finden ist:

“Die Versammlung fordert die Mitgliederstaaten auf, sicherzustellen, dass keine Diskriminierung bezüglich der Frage, welche Bewegungen als Sekte oder nicht betrachtet werden, erlaubt ist, dass kein Unterschied gemacht wird zwischen traditionellen und nicht traditionellen religiösen Bewegungen, neuen religiösen Bewegungen oder “Sekten” wenn es darum geht, Zivil- oder Strafrecht anzuwenden und dass jegliche Massnahmen gegenüber nicht traditionellen Bewegungen, neuen religiösen Bewegungen oder “Sekten” mit Menschenrechtsstandards gemäss der Europäischen Menschenrechtserklärung in Einklang sind, sowie anderen relevanten Richtlinien, die die Würde  der Menschen und deren gleiche und unveräusserlichen Rechte schützen.”

Anträge einiger Parlamentarier, das Wort “Sekte”  ganz zu streichen, wurden abgewiesen – obwohl dies ziemlich im Widerspruch mit den Hauptzielen der Mehrheit der Abänderungen stand, die angenommen wurden. Dies muss man jedoch als politischen Konpromiss sehen, im Zusammenhang mit einem Bericht, der keine Fakten als Basis hatte, der Versammlung aufgedrängt  und in einer Letzte Minute Aktion durchgepeitscht werden sollte. Auf alle Fälle ist die Tatsache dass alle negativen und diskriminierenden Vorschläge abgewiesen wurden ein positives Zeichen, dass die Versammlung  den Versuch von Rudy Salles durchschaut hat, der das französische Modell religiöser Diskriminierung den anderen 46 Mitgliedstaaten des Europarates aufzwingen wollte.

Die endgültige Resolution findet sich hier:

COE-Assembly

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Hungary Breached Freedom of Religion

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European Court of Human Rights: Hungary Breached Freedom of Religion

by Veronika Gulyas

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hungary european court hr

BUDAPEST, April 8, 2014 (TWSJ) –The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Hungary breached the freedom of religion and the freedom of association when stripped minor religious groups of their status as churches.

The Church Act, which took effect in January 2012, says the Hungarian parliament has the right to decide in a two-thirds majority vote whether a given religious community or church may attain a recognized church status and also, which church gets state subsidy.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban was reelected to power for another four-year term, with his Fidesz party likely winning a two-thirds majority again.

After a Constitutional Court decision last year, which found certain provisions of the Church Act unconstitutional, Hungary recognizes religious communities as having the same legal standing as recognized churches, but this still doesn’t necessarily mean they also receive state financing.

Churches still need to be recognized officially in Hungary to operate, based not only on formalities but also after considerations such as whether their operations aren’t a threat to national security. This process is now done by the government and parliament, instead of the earlier practice when only the parliament had a say.

Prior to the Church Act of 2012, religious communities had been registered as churches by courts based solely on formal requirements in Hungary and received state funding automatically.

Many of the former churches lost their fully incorporated church status after the parliament recognition. The Strasbourg Court now ruled that this breached the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of association.

In an end-2011 letter to Hungary’s Prime Minister, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of Washington expressed the US government’s concern about  this law.

“The US government is deeply concerned that no modifications have been made to the Law on Churches. Outside observers note the rules for religions to gain recognition are prohibitively cumbersome, and the requirement for two-thirds approval by Parliament unnecessary politicizes decisions surrounding a basic human right,” Ms. Clinton wrote.

The court said Hungary couldn’t prove that there wasn’t any less drastic way to monitor which religious groups receive subsidies, and said: “the measure imposed by the Church Act had not been necessary in a democratic society.”

The government wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The European Court of Human Rights cannot oblige the parliament in any way to modify the country’s Church Act, said Szabolcs Hegyi, program manager at human rights watchdog Hungarian Civil Liberties Union.

Source: The Wall Street Journal – Real Time Emerging Europe 

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TODAY IN THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE: Rhodes blasts the Rudy Salles Report

TODAY IN STRASBOURG:
Rhodes blasts the Rudy Salles report “The protection of minors against excesses of sects” in the Council of Europe hearing (8 April 2014, Strasbourg):

Dr. Aaron RHODES President of FOREF Europe

Dr. Aaron RHODES
President of FOREF Europe

Dr. Aaron Rhodes
Co-founder of the Freedom Rights Project; President of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe; former Executive Director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights


I appreciate this opportunity to speak in the framework of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. As I understand it, the main role of the Parliamentary Assembly is to undertake investigations and make recommendations to the member states of the Council of Europe. I am here to appeal to the members of the Parliamentary Assembly to soundly reject the resolution entitled “The protection of minors against excesses of sects.”

As a human rights advocate, I am certain that this resolution would not offer children any meaningful protection not already available to them under the laws of member states.

But if it were to pass, the resolution would itself constitute a threat to children, as well as adults, who are members of minority religions.

It would stigmatize them and increase the chances of them being exposed to prejudice, discriminated against, and even subjected to violence.

The proposal raises the obvious question: Why focus just on so-called “sects”? What about the threats to children by main-line religious organizations?

The resolution would be a strike against religious toleration and thus against democracy and human rights, which mean nothing if religious groups are not treated equally.

The resolution would be a stain on the Council of Europe. It is in no way consistent with the intent of the founders of the Council of Europe. Indeed, it is confusing that such a document, one that would weaken human rights protections and possibly inspire human rights violations, is even under consideration.

Continue reading

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Forum for Religious Freedom – Europe names Aaron Rhodes President

Forum for Religious Freedom – Europe names Aaron Rhodes President

Dr. Aaron RHODES outlines his priorities as the new president of FOREF Europa

Dr. Aaron RHODES outlines his priorities as the new president of FOREF Europa

Vienna, 4.Apil, 20014 (FOREF): Dr. Aaron Rhodes will succeed Professor Christian Bruenner as President of the Forum for Religious Freedom – Europe (FOREF).  The board of directors will formalize the selection at their General Assembly meeting on 5 April 2014.

Aaron Rhodes is a founder of the Freedom Rights Project, a human rights research initiative and think-tank.  He was formerly associated with the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), which he led for 14 years between 1993 and  2007.  In 2008, he and colleagues established the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.  Rhodes has taught and lectured widely at universities in the United States and Europe.

In 2008, Rhodes was made an honorary citizen of the Republic of Austria in recognition of his work on behalf of human rights, and in 2009, The University of Chicago awarded him a citation for public service, noting that he is “regarded as one of the world’s leading human rights activists.”  Rhodes earned his doctorate in the Committee on Social Thought at The University of Chicago, and before that a bachelors degree from Reed College. Continue reading

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Forum Religionsfreiheit Europa (FOREF): Aaron Rhodes neuer Präsident

Forum Religionsfreiheit Europa (FOREF): Aaron Rhodes neuer Präsident

Dr. Aaron RHODES erläutert seine Prioritäten als der neue Präsident von FOREF Europa
Dr. Aaron RHODES erläutert seine Prioritäten als der neue Präsident von FOREF Europa
http://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20140405_OTS0024/forum-religionsfreiheit-europa-foref-aaron-rhodes-neuer-praesident

Wien, 5.4.20014 (OTS) – Der international anerkannte Menschenrechtsexperte Dr. Aaron Rhodes übernimmt die Funktion des Präsidenten beim Menschenrechtsverein FOREF (Sitz in Wien). Rhodes folgt dem Verfassungs- und Verwaltungsrechtsexperten Prof. Christian Brünner in dieser Rolle. Der Vereinsvorstand hat die Wahl von Rhodes bei seiner Hauptversammlung am 5. April 2014 in Wien bestätigt.

Aaron Rhodes ist Begründer der Menschenrechtsinitiative und des Think Tanks Freedom Rights Project (www.freedomrights.info). Lange Jahre war seine Tätigkeit verbunden mit dem Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM) und der Internationalen Helsinki Föderation für Menschenrechte (IHF), welche er 14 Jahre lang leitete (1993 – 2007). Im Jahre 2008 gründete er gemeinsam mit Kollegen die Internationale Kampagne für Menschenrechte im Iran. Aaron Rhodes referierte an diversen Universitäten in den U.S.A. und in Europa.

Im Jahre 2008 wurde er zum Ehrenbürger der Republik Österreich in Anerkennung seines Einsatzes für die Menschenrechte ernannt. Von der Universität Chicago wurde ihm 2009 eine Anerkennung aufgrund seiner Verdienste für die Allgemeinheit ausgesprochen mit dem Hinweis “einer der führenden Menschenrechtsaktivisten der Welt” zu sein. Aaron Rhodes erlangte seinen Doktortitel an der Abteilung für Soziologie an der Universität Chicago, seinen Bachelor am Reed College. Continue reading

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The Inquisition descends in Brussels

The Inquisition descends in Brussels

Annual Conference  of FECRIS 2014

“SECTS AND THE FALSE DEBATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS”

Fecris congress room

FECRIS 2014 Annual Meeting

By Paul van den Berg

FECRIS (Federation of Centers of Research and Information on Cults and Sects) held its annual gathering on March 24, 2014 in Brussels. As usual, the meeting was shrouded in secrecy and only open to affiliated member organizations and “friendly” individuals. The existence of the meeting and in particular its agenda and venue was even kept off their official Website until a few days ago. This is the more surprising since the meeting was held inside the Belgian Parliament (“The Palace of the Nation”) in the “Salle des Congrès”.

What is FECRIS and what does it stand for?

According to their own website: “FECRIS is politically, philosophically and religiously neutral.”

History shows a different picture and pattern though. FECRIS was created in in 1994 and was predestined from its birth: founded via the French anti-sect association UNADFI (National Union of Associations for the Defense of Family and the Individual) and cohabiting with GEMPPI (Study Group on World views for the Protection of the Individual) in Marseille, whose President Mr. Didier Pachoud is allegedly the author of the list of 173 “dangerous” sect attached to the 1996 parliamentary inquiry report on sects in France.

FECRIS got public funding and was quickly recuperated by their benefactors to actively support existing and pending legislation targeting New Religious Movements, so called “sects” and the like. Their business model, consisting of an academically empty shell, supported by a number of activist Politicians, allowed them to quickly spread from France throughout the EU and beyond.

Belgium was a particular attentive follower, created its own Sect List, Parliamentary Committee and Working group on “dangerous sects”, and voted similar legislation on Abuse of Weakness and is now reforming the Health sector presented as being infiltrated by “sects”. Continue reading

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