JAPAN: A landmark court decision! Kidnappers and deprogrammers to pay dozens of million yen for attempted forceful change of religion
By Willy Fautré, HRWF
Toru Goto’s case in a nutshell:
- Toru Goto confined by relatives for 12 years and 5 months for ‘deprogramming’ by an Evangelical pastor and another person
- Brother, sister-in-law and sister to pay 22 million yen (1 EUR=145 yen)
- Deprogrammer Takashi Miyamura to pay 11 million yen
- Evangelical pastor Yasutomo Matsunaga to pay 4.4 million yen
- Japanese media totally silent as usual about such cases
- HRWF Int’l report ” Japan: Abduction & deprivation of freedom for the purpose of religious de-conversion” available on Amazon (here)
Toru Goto’s persistent legal fight for freedom of faith finally bears results.
Tokyo, 17.11.2014 (HRWF) – On 13 November, the Tokyo High Court issued a ruling ordering five people (three close relatives of the victim, an Evangelical pastor and another person) to pay damages to a victim of abduction and attempts of forceful religious de-conversion in confinement conditions from September 1995 to February 2008.
In the civil suit filed by Toru Goto (51) against three members of his family and professional ‘deprogrammers’ involved in the case, Judge NoriakiSudo of Tokyo High Court acknowledged the reality of the facts. Until now, courts massively dismissed the illegal nature of abduction and attempted forceful religious de-conversion in confinement conditions and ruled that such cases were “mere talks between parents and children.”
The first three trial defendants: his brother, sister-in-law and younger sister, were ordered to pay a total amount of 22 million yen.
The first trial defendant, a professional deprogrammer, Mr. Takashi Miyamura, was ordered to pay 11 million yen.
Pastor Yasutomo Matsunaga of the Niitsu Evangelical Christian Church (Niigata City) was ordered to pay 4.4 million yen. It was indeed determined that he not only gave ‘tacit consent’ and ‘encouragement’ to Mr. Goto’s family’s unlawful actions, but he ‘aided and abetted in restricting his freedom and persuading him to change his religion.”
JAPAN: Abduction and confinement of a couple for forceful change of religion – Criminal charges brought against a pastor of Kobe City
By Willy Fautré, HRWF
Hiroshima, 17.11.2014 (HRWF) – On 7th November, a couple living in Hiroshima City, who are members of the Unification Church, submitted a criminal charge to the West Hiroshima Police Station against a pastor from Kobe City and others for being abducted, confined and subjected to attempted forcible conversion for six days, from July 26 – 31, 2014. According to the charges, on July 26th, the husband (age 43) was forced to ride in a van by his family members, who said they were going to visit a relative at a hospital. The van was driven by a man unknown to him, and he was taken to a room in an apartment located in Osaka City, Yodogawa Ward and confined there.
Next, his wife (age 40), was invited to her parents’ home in Hiroshima City with their 8-year old daughter and 3-year old son. Her family members suddenly pounced on her, bound her arms and feet and put her in a sleeping bag. They tied up the sleeping bag, confined her in a van and then locked up in a room in the apartment where her husband was also confined whilstbeing separated from their two children. The front door to the apartment unit was locked multiple times with two kinds of padlocks and some chains. The crescent locks on the windows leading to the veranda of the rooms were fixed with wires so that they could not be opened or closed. Inside the apartment, their family members kept guard over the couple. Furthermore, a woman unknown to them who was not a family member,kept the keys to the padlocks of the front door and wore them around her neck. The couple was placed under strict confinement, in which no one could freely leave the rooms without permission from this woman.
Munich: Muslims have a right to build a mosque, and opponents have a right to criticize Islam
FOREF Europe criticizes restrictions on freedom of speech and expression
MUNICH/VIENNA, 2014-11-11 (FOREF) – Munich city authorities were justified in prohibiting a public referendum on building a proposed 40-million-EURO Munich Forum for Islam mosque, but the human rights of German citizens opposing the mosque have been violated, according to the Forum for Religious Freedom – Europe (FOREF), an independent, secular, nongovernmental organization.
“The right to build places of worship is guaranteed by international human rights law, and cannot be subjected to democratic decisions.,” stated Dr. Aaron Rhodes, President of FOREF. “But we are deeply concerned that the freedom of expression of opponents of the mosque has been violated,” Rhodes added.
Questions About FECRIS
By the European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience
FOREF, 20.10.2014 – The “European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience” has created a new leaflet informing about the French GONGO (Government Operated Non Government Organization) and anti-cult lobby FECRIS. It features first hand citations from the main activists of FECRIS, such as
and Jean-Pierre Bousquet.
BRUSSELS, October 2014 (European Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience) – If one found out that an NGO (non-government organisation) was targeting new or traditional religious groups, and if this NGO (FECRIS) was a federation of groups with similar aims, one would have every right to be surprised. The information presented in this document goes far beyond what you might imagine—and that’s probably what has allowed it to remain relatively unnoticed until now. We consider it important to bring this information to the attention of all those who are committed to true European democratic principles—the result of a long and sometimes painful history—of freedom and tolerance regarding religious beliefs.
See more at: Questions About FECRIS.
HUNGARY: Deregistration of religious communities – A professor of Texas Lutheran University reacts to MEP György Hölvenyi’s comment
Published by Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF)
(HRWF) – Following the publication of The Economist blog post “A slippery Magyar Slope” (25th September 2014) and MEP György Hölvényi’s comment about it in our Newsletter, we received a reaction of Prof. David Baer from the Texas Lutheran University that we share below with you:
David Baer (13.10.2014) – Mr. Holvenyi’s writes to defend a church law that the ECtHR has found to breach the European Convention and which the Hungarian government refuses to amend. He would thus have us believe that religious communities in Hungary enjoy religious freedom even as they are not protected by the rule of law.
Mr. Holvenyi urges that we stick to the facts. The fact is that in 2011 the government of Hungary retroactively “deregistered” religious communities already recognized as churches under Hungarian law. The fact is that in 2013 Hungary’s Constitutional Court found this deregistration procedure unconstitutional. The fact is that after 2013 the government of Hungary blatantly ignored the Court’s decision, refusing to treat unconstitutionally deregistered religious communities as legal churches. The fact is that in 2014 the European Court of Human Rights found that Hungary’s unconstitutional church law also violated the right of religious freedom and the European Convention. The fact is that the Hungarian government has still not, as of this day, acted to abide by the European Court’s decision.
HUNGARY: Response to the Erasmus blog post “A slippery Magyar slope”, September 25th 2014
Published by Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF)
HRWF is hereby giving the floor to MEP György Holvenyi who sent us his position about a religious freedom issue in Hungary after we reproduced an article published in The Economist on 25th September. Our newsletter is open to further debates about the new registration process of churches.
Member of European Parliament György Holvenyi (10.10.2014) – The recent post of The Economist’s blog Erasmus on religious freedom in Central Europe (“A slippery Magyar slope” by B. C., September 25th 2014) makes several misleading statements and offers a rather personal interpretation of the existing legal regulations on churches in Hungary.
Basic aspects on the registration process of churches have not been detailed in your blog post. Firstly, all associations dealing with religious activities are registered solely by the courts in Hungary. A politically highly neutral system. These communities operate independetly from the state, acoording to their own principles of faith and rituals.
The blog post makes references on “incorporated churches” in Hungary. It is crucial to know that the category of “icorporated churches”, as you call it, does not affect religious freedom at all. It is simply about financial aspects such as state subsidies for churches running social activities for the common good of the society.
For Hungary, The Game is Up:
Ruling on Religion Law Forces Viktor Orbán’s Hand
By H. David Baer for FOREF Europe
BUDAPEST, 08.10.2014 (FOREF) – Last month the European Court of Human Rights declined to consider an appeal from the Hungarian government concerning the Court’s judgment on Hungary’s new religion law. Introduced in 2011 by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the so-called Act on “Freedom of Conscience and Religion” stripped the majority of Hungary’s religious communities of legal standing, forcing them to seek out recognition as “civil associations” in order to avoid having the state liquidate their assets. A few groups took their case to Strasbourg, where the European Court found that this retroactive “deregistration” violated the right of religious freedom and breached the European Convention.
With an end of all chance for appeal, the Court’s decision becomes final. That means the game is up for Viktor Orbán. Either his government abides by the Court’s decision, restoring the legal status of deregistered communities and compensating them for four years of financial damage; or his government ignores the Court, thereby demonstrating its disdain for European institutions and democratic values.