European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom

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After the complaint sent by FOREF to Secretary General of PACE in November against Mr Rudy Salles for violations of the Code of Conduct for Rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly, it is now another NGO, CAPLC, which filed a complaint for violation of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly, including a suspicion of conflict of interests while drafting his report “The Protection of Minors against Excesses of Sects”. Here is this new complaint:


Second complaint against French MP Rudy Salles at PACE
Source

Dear Mrs. Brasseur,
 
On 7 November 2013, FOREF (Forum for Religious Freedom Europe) submitted a letter to the Secretary General of the Assembly to draw his attention to unequivocal evidence demonstrating that Mr. Rudy Salles, French MP and Rapporteur for the Committee on Legal Affairs Report on “The Protection of Minors Against Sectarian Influence”has acted in a manner that is neither neutral, nor impartial in breach of Rules 1.1.1, 1.1.2 and 1.1.4 of the Code of Conduct for Rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly. I attach herewith a copy of FOREF’s letter for your information.
 
Despite his lack of neutrality, on March 3, 2014, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights adopted Mr. Salles’Report entitled “The Protection of Minors against Excesses of Sects”with a recommendation and a resolution included in it. This Report is scheduled to be voted on during the next plenary session in April 2014.
 
I am writing not only to support FOREF’s complaint against Mr. Salles but to alert you to newly discovered facts that provide further proof that Mr. Salles is in breach of the PACE rules requiring objectivity and neutrality for Rapporteurs. In October 2012, the newspaper Nice Martin interviewed Mr. Salles and reported he had been appointed to the Board of MIVILUDES in October 2012. A copy of that news article dated 22 October 2012 is attached. Given MIVILUDES position and policies on the subject, this, in and of itself, constitutes a serious breach not only of the Code of Conduct for Rapporteurs but also of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly. Mr. Salles should, at the very least, have removed himself as Rapporteur upon acceptance of this appointment.
 
Reading the Report, it becomes obvious that what was denounced in the FOREF letter is unquestionably true. Indeed, MIVILUDES predetermined the findings and recommendations in the Report even before Mr. Salles started to work on it, as its former President, Mr. Fenech, announced: “[Mr. Fenech] also stated in the article that one of the purposes of the report would be: ‘the creation of a European Observatory on sects’.” Mr. Fenech added in his book that he obtained from the then Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of PACE the appointment of a “pioneer of the anti-sect fight in France”, Mr. Salles, as Rapporteur and “had no problem to convince him to work on the Report as a matter of emergency”.
 
The breaches of the Code for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly include violation of the General principles of Behaviour:
 
While performing their mandate as members of the Parliamentary Assembly, members shall:
(...)
5.2. take decisions solely in the public interest, without being bound by any instructions that would jeopardise members' ability to respect the present code;
And:
8. Members shall avoid conflicts between any actual or potential economic, commercial, financial or other interests on a professional, personal or family level on the one hand, and the public interest in the work of the Assembly on the other, by resolving any conflict in favour of public interest; if the member is unable to avoid such a conflict of interests, it shall be disclosed.
(...)
11. Members shall not request or accept any fee, compensation or reward intended to affect their conduct as members, particularly in their decision to support or oppose any motion, report, amendment, written declaration, recommendation, resolution or opinion. Members shall avoid any situation that could appear to be a conflict of interests or accept an inappropriate payment or gift.
12. Members shall not use their position as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly to further their own or another person’s or entity's interests in a manner incompatible with this code of conduct.
 
Mr. Salle’s appointment as representative of the French National Assembly at the Board of MIVILUDES at the very least constitutes a conflict of interest while undertaking the Report he was in charge of. Indeed, MIVILUDES stated that they were the ones who instigated the Report in order to export the French model to other countries of Europe, and they have been the main source of “information” for Mr. Salles as evidenced by the numerous references to MIVILUDES in the Report presenting it as a “unique” Institution in Europe. This, added to the facts already revealed by FOREF in their original letter, shows clearly that Mr. Salles purpose is to further another entity’s policies and programs, an entity that he was bound to serve due to his position as a member of the Board in violation of the Rules of the Assembly.
 
MIVILUDES is an internationally discredited organization that has pushed through a series of measures in the area of education and children that seriously jeopardize the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their religious beliefs, a right protected by Article 2 of Protocol N° 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights.
 
Even the French Ministry of Interior, which is in charge of religious matters, had to distance itself from MIVILUDES, as stated by the Director of the Central Office of Worship (“Bureau Central des Cultes”) at the Ministry in 2006: “The Ministry of Interior is sometimes accused of underestimating the disturbance of public order that would generate by nature, certain movements focused on by the MIVILUDES. I mean some movements that have decades, even centuries of existence and come from great spiritual currents or attach as "Plymouth Brethren", a branch of Protestantism, Jehovah's Witnesses and in the past few months even the Lubavitch which are the expression of an old tradition of Hasidic Jew. In the Central office of worship we believe we should address issues of public policy with the utmost rigor and focus on facts rather than rumours.”
 
Olivier Bobineau, a sociologist of religions in charge of the Sociology Department at the College of Economical and Social Sciences of the Catholic Institute of Paris, resigned in 2005 from his position as scientific advisor at MIVILUDES. In January 2006 he started as scientific associate of the Director of the Central Office of Worship. Based on his experience at MIVILUDES, Mr. Bobineau declared in an interview given on 9 June 20092 “MIVILUDES plays the role of administrative police of the mind, which searches for scapegoats and stigmatizes certain groups.”
 
The evidence unequivocally demonstrates that Mr. Salles is in breach of Code of Conduct for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly. These breaches are serious and will tarnish the reputation of the Assembly if not remedied promptly.
 
We respectfully ask you to apply points 17 and 183 of the Code of Conduct and carry out an investigation in order to decide what measures should be taken per the Code for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly in such situation.
 
Yours Sincerely,

Thierry Bécourt
President
 
Cc: Mr. Wojciech Sawicki, Secretary General of PACE
Mr. Pedro Agramunt, Chairman of the EPP group at the Parliamentary Assembly
 

Rédigé par EIFRF le Friday, March 21st 2014 | Comments (0)

The famous Moscow Helsinki Group, by the voice of its co-founder Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a very well known freedom fighter since the 70s in the Soviet Union, wrote to Mrs Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to alert her about a report drafted by the member of the French delegation Mr Rudy Salles, which should be voted on April 10, 2014 by the Assembly.


Moscow Helsinki Group alerts PACE President about Religious Freedom issue
Madame Anne Brasseur
President
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe - Palais de l’Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex 
 
Moscow, the 15th of March 2014
 
 
 
Dear Madam President,
 
The Moscow Helsinki Group has a longstanding history of defending Human Rights and a quite important expertise in that field.
 
We would like to draw your attention on the report written by Mr Rudy Salles, French member of the Assembly, and the draft resolution and recommendations that are going to be voted upon at the second part of the plenary session 2014, “The protection of minors against excesses of sects“.
 
This report in our views poses tremendous problems against basic international standards with regards to human rights.
 
Protecting children is a very important matter, and every effort in that direction should be supported. However, the resolution and recommendation contained in the report will do exactly the opposite.
 
The right of parents to educate children accordingly to their own belief is a fundamental right protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the right to choose one’s own religion. No distinction should be made between “traditional” religions and “non-traditional” religions and labelling a group as a “sect” is obviously an effort to make a distinction between “good” and “bad” religions.
 
In that report, it is clear that what is called a “sect” is a religious minority as opposed to a “traditional” religion. See the illustration of this in point 43: “When it comes to preventing and combating excesses of sects, some Council of Europe member states grant significant leeway to civil society and the “traditional” churches (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant). In this case, it is necessary to provide these stakeholders with sufficient resources for effectively performing their tasks in terms of advising and assisting the victims of such excesses and their relatives.”
 
This will lead to mere discrimination where “traditional Churches” will receive money by the States with the purpose to discriminate against religious minorities as it has already happened in Russia. This has even led to children sent to “reform” psychiatric camps has it was the case under the Soviet Union. When that path is followed, it is the concept of freedom itself that is at stake.
 
Moreover, in OSCE/ODHIR/Venice Commission Guidelines for Review of Legislation Pertaining to Religion or Belief(1), it’s written:
 
2. The definition of “religion.” Legislation often includes the understandable attempt to define “religion” or related terms (“sects”, “cults”, “traditional religion”, etc.). There is no generally accepted definition for such terms in international law, and many States have had difficulty defining these terms. It has been argued that such terms cannot be defined in a legal sense because of the inherent ambiguity of the concept of religion. A common definitional mistake is to require that a belief in God be necessary for some- thing to be considered a religion. The most obvious counterexamples are classical Buddhism, which is not theistic, and Hinduism, which is polytheistic. In addition, terms such as “sect” and “cult” are frequently employed in a pejorative rather than analytic way. To the extent that legislation includes definitions, the text should be reviewed carefully to ensure that they are not discriminatory and that they do not prejudge some religions or fundamental beliefs at the expense of others.
 
Then point 6.7 of the resolution: “to adopt or strengthen, if necessary, legislative provisions punishing the abuse of psychological and/or physical weakness”, cannot stand any critical assessment. This refers to the French law on “psychological subjugation”. There is no scientific evidence that could support the idea of “psychological subjugation”, which is a synonym to “brainwashing”, by religious groups, or it could be applied to any religion, including mainstream ones. As for the word “sect”, there is no legal definition of “psychological subjugation” which will allow any mainstream group to attack religious minorities, like Hindus, Muslims, or even Jewish or non-mainstream Christians as well as new religions, pretending that the followers are under “psychological subjugation” even if they say that they practice their religion freely. Actually this is what happens already, but this will be reinforced by this resolution.
 
The European Court of human Rights has already expressed this in 2010 in the CASE OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES OF MOSCOW AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA (2) “that there is no generally accepted and scientific definition of what constitutes ”mind control”” (point 129).
 
In Russia, FECRIS (FECRIS seems to be the main biased informer of Mr Rudy Salles for the report) is mainly made up of mainstream Orthodox Church linked organizations, and are targeting every non-orthodox faiths as “sects”: Muslims, Hindus, Evangelical Christians, new religious movements. Their competence and fairness is very questionable. They benefit of a strong position in the law, constitutionally, legislatively and economically, and cannot be considered as impartial as they utter extremist speech regularly.
 
We strongly believe that this resolution and this recommendation will create more harm that they will protect any child. It should be reviewed or rejected, and we hope that the Assembly will not endorse such a dangerous path for children of religious minorities, a path of violations of human rights against parents and the more vulnerable population: children.
 
Warm regards,
 
Lyudmila Alexeyeva


Rédigé par Moscow Helsinki Group le Thursday, March 20th 2014 | Comments (0)

The Evropress Club of Journalist, in Bulgaria, sent a letter to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to protest against a report drafted by French MP Rudy Salles, deemed to violate basic human rights standards and to be "very counter-productive for the eastern-European countries as well as for all Europe".


Bulgaria - Council of Europe, the Evropress Club of Journalists defends Freedom of Religion or Belief
Madame Anne Brasseur
President of the Parliamentary 
Assembly of the Council of Europe
Palais de l’Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex 
 
Plovdiv, the 13th of March 2014
 
 
 
Dear Madame,
 
The Evropress Club of Journalists is a professional organization of journalists from the city of Plovdiv, members of the Union of the Bulgarian Journalists, with more than 10 years of history, with members of various religious backgrounds: Eastern-Orthodox, Roman-Catholic, Muslim, Humanist, etc.
 
We have read with attention the report “The protection of minors against excesses of sects”, by French rapporteur Rudy Salles. It appears to us that this report and the resolution and recommendation that will be voted at the next plenary session in April, are very counter-productive for the eastern-European countries as well as for all Europe.
 
First of all, in Bulgaria, Roma children, mostly evangelical Christians or also orthodox or heterodox Muslims mixing their religious rituals with some pagan beliefs and practices, while the mainstream religion is the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, were placed in special schools reserved for children with disabilities, as stated in the concluding observations of the 23 March 2009 by the UN Committee on the elimination of racial discrimination. And many cases of lost of custody of children by parents belonging to religious minorities (mostly protestants and evangelical Christians) have happened in the past.
 
This is the kind of things that happen when you try to use the denomination “sect” or try to oppose traditional Churches to non-traditional Churches. This does not protect children, but it puts them at risk. 
 
This report, this resolution and this recommendation, if voted by the Assembly, are going to serve as a justification, for the people who are already pushing an agenda of intolerance against religious minorities, for exerting violations of human rights against children of religious minorities. This is of course not the purpose of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. 
 
In the Guidelines for Review of Legislation Pertaining to Religion or Belief  laid out by the expert panel on religious freedom of the ODIHR and the Venice Commission, it’s stated: 
 
2. The definition of “religion.” Legislation often includes the understandable attempt to define “religion” or related terms (“sects”, “cults”, “traditional religion”, etc.). There is no generally accepted definition for such terms in international law, and many States have had difficulty defining these terms. It has been argued that such terms cannot be defined in a legal sense because of the inherent ambiguity of the concept of religion. A common definitional mistake is to require that a belief in God be necessary for some- thing to be considered a religion. The most obvious counterexamples are classical Buddhism, which is not theistic, and Hinduism, which is polytheistic. In addition, terms such as “sect” and “cult” are frequently employed in a pejorative rather than analytic way. To the extent that legislation includes definitions, the text should be reviewed carefully to ensure that they are not discriminatory and that they do not prejudge some religions or fundamental beliefs at the expense of others. 
 
Unfortunately, this is exactly the contrary which is done by the French Rapporteur of the report, Mr Rudy Salles. 
 
We would like to express our wish that this report be rejected or utterly reviewed to respect the international law standards as regards Freedom of Religion or Belief.
 
Faithfully yours,

Dr Georgi Naydenov PhD

Copy of the original letter:

Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, March 18th 2014 | Comments (0)

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