No fair Proceeding,
OLG Munich criticizes Delay
Report by FOREF
MUNICH, 22.05.2015 (FOREF) – Altogether 40 children of the Christian religious community Twelve Tribes were separated from their parents in September 2013 and put into state custody (see FOREF- report from 01.01.2015). This action was justified by a temporary order of the local court of Noerdlingen, and carried out by a police raid. The Higher Regional Court (OLG) Munich recently criticized the family court about the unusual length of the procedures. Until now only 22 children were allowed to return to their parents. Most of them were old enough to run away from their isolation.
Eva, a youth member of the Twelve Tribes, was one of the 40 children and youth, that were separated from their parents during the police raid and brought to juvenile shelters (Jugendheim). Sabine Riede, a so called cult expert from the FERCIS affiliated Cult Info NRW, urged for this order, since she suspected systematic child abuse in the community. No evidence for abuse in the Twelve Tribes has been brought yet.
After half a year Eva fled from the strict isolation and prison like control of the juvenile shelter and returned back home. Her younger sister however still finds herself in state custody. “My little sister was torn out of our family”, said Eva. “There’s no evidence for abuse. Our parents always loved my little sister very much. (…) She was and is truly a treasure. We want to have her with us again. We will take good care of her. That’s why I fight for her”, the youth explains determinedly.
Together with Besorah, her sister of faith, Eva protested at the traditional Stabenfest in Nördlingen on Monday, the 11.Mai 2015, with signs and fliers against the stigmatization of their community. The fliers, that they distributed, had the title: “What the director of the district court, Mr. Beyschlag, failed to tell you”. Helmut Beyschlag, who is also the press spokesman of the court, wants to initiate an examination concerning a possible violation of the right of assembly, in reaction to the spontaneous demo. Beyschlag does not want to comment the ongoing proceedings concerning the custody of the affected parents.
Chassidah, another seized child who ran away from the juvenile shelter, also turns to the public now, since she wants to point out the improper procedure of the authorities. She has not been abused by her parents in her life, but she feels put under massive psychological pressure by the Jugendamt since she was separated forcefully from her parents. There are still police raids irregularly on the estate “Klosterzimmern” of the Twelve Tribes in Germany. Since she escaped the institution Chassidah lives in “constant fear”, that the Jugendamt wants to separate her from her parents again.
By now the irregularities of the court proceedings in the case of the Twelve Tribes even attracted the attention of the OLG Munich. In the most recent decree of the OLG from 20.04.2015 it was pointed out that since the separation has been going on for almost two years, the collection of evidence has not taken place yet. This had been decided by the district court in September 2013 already. The OLG reminds the district court about the importance of a speedy trial in family cases, for through the almost perennial process duration a “return to the child to the parents is would be complicated more and more” and the possible consequences for the psychological development of the children are to be considered. Besides that, the proceeding of the district court in Nördlingen seems to be problematic from the point of view of art. 6 (worthiness of protection of marriage and family, parental rights of upbringing) and art. 20, par.3 (the obligation of jurisdiction to statute and law) of the constitution for the republic Germany. The ruling of the OLG realized, that the repeated and explicit desire of the children, to live with their parents, makes the “temporary court order” from September 2013 increasingly questionable.
In a press release from May 19, lawyer Michael Langhans, who represents eleven families of the community before court, explains that the responsible family court Nördlingen ordered psychological evaluations not until one and a half years after (!) the violent separation of the children from their parents. However most of the evaluations are not available yet. Apart from the long process duration of the present case the medical examinations already at the time of the first police raid provided no evidence of abuse of the children of the early christian religious community. The children should have been sent home on that very same day.
In the meantime two children of the community can live again with their parents, who live in Spain. The concerned family briefly lived with the Twelve Tribes in Wörnitz as guests in September 2013. This decision was consensually decided from the parents, the Jugendamt, and the lawyer Langhans in a hearing before the OLG Nürnberg. Thus the first appeal at the OLG was negotiated successfully for the Twelve Tribes.
Lawyer Langhans is confident, that within the next months more rulings in the proceedings about the custody battle can be expected.