The internationalisation of cults: a danger to human rights in Europe?

Acts of the conference

The internationalisation of cults:

a danger to human rights in Europe?

organized by the association

Contacts et Informations Groupes Sectaires (CIGS)

and the

 European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Sectarianism


on 25 March 2006 at the Fondation Universitaire,

30 Rue du Champ de Mars, 1000 Bruxelles


Since July 2005 FECRIS has become one of nearly 400 International Non Governmental Organisations (INGO) which have participative status with the Council of Europe. One of the goals of our Conference was to reflect on how this participative statute could serve FECRIS to play its role of representing the member associations in their contacts with the European Institutions in the framework of their defence of families, individuals and democratic societies against the activities of harmful cultist organisations.


That is the reason for the choice of our theme: The internationalisation of cults: a danger to human rights in Europe?


After many years involvement against cults, the family associations in Europe finally, in 1994, created FECRIS. It was conceived for Europe but is, nevertheless, an open window on the world because it is obvious that harmful cultist organisations have already gone global and the danger on the world scene is that such movements become more and more radical if they have an open road before them.


As one of our speakers from the Council of Europe pointed out, debates in the Council of Europe “will for example have to clarify what the freedom of religion covers and what it does not cover.  Freedom of thought does not mean that one has the right to do just anything and we should have the courage to affirm that there are people who abuse of the freedoms that the European Convention of Human Rights protects.”


This was confirmed by the Representative of the Belgian Minister of Justice who stated

“…much closer cooperation between the authorities should be implemented in this field. We know that it is not always easy to be organised at various levels and in particular at the European level and it is precisely these difficulties which cultist organisations exploit to develop their international activities…”


“The path followed by Belgium is perhaps not the easiest one, but it is necessary to keep in mind that various rights and freedoms which we guarantee in our country, also have as corollary that these freedoms are granted but within certain limits.”  

Another conclusion of great interest to our associations reminded us of the importance and danger of not being present on the lobbying scene:


“It is important that we should understand lobbying because we consider that if cults have completely integrated it into their operating mode our victims’ defence associations are still severely lacking experience in this field.”


“Lobbying corresponds to a certain form of management dominated by strategy. We must therefore review our paradigms which must be clearly defined and we must go ahead and explain to the local, regional, national and international authorities, what cultist lobbying signifies and what is hiding behind the cults’ objective of a change in paradigms.”


Finally the interest of our Conference was greatly enhanced by the presence of the Rapporteur of the working party of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives who found the time to come and present, in priority, the result of a two years’ follow up study on what had effectively been done in the cult scene since the end of the Parliamentary inquiry on the subject in 1997.  This report is extremely complete and can serve us all as a reminder of what still has to be done in the years to come.


This being said, we would like to thank our sponsors, our speakers and all the associations and friends with a particular mention of the important Italian delegation, who answered our invitation to a Conference which permitted both exchange of information and friendly contacts across Europe.  Many thanks also to the team of the Belgian association Contact et information groupes sectaires (CIGS) who helped us make the 25 March 2006 a complete success.





Secretary General





GRIESS Friedrich – President of FECRIS – Austria: Opening of the conference


PASTEEL Michel – Member of the Cabinet of Madame L. Onkelinx, Minister of Justice: Welcome to Belgium


GRIESS Friedrich – President of FECRIS: Presentation


OESCHGER Annelise – Germany, President of the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe:

The INGO [1] and the Council of Europe: a passionate relationship for a more human and just Europe


MOUREAUX Serge – Belgium, Lawyer and honorary member of the Belgian Chamber of  Representatives, President 1996-1997 – Commission on the illegal activities of cults:

The parliamentary Board of Inquiry…Ten Years later


MALMENDIER Jean-Pierre – Belgium, Federal Member of Parliament, effective Member of the Commission of Justice, Rapporteur of the working group

Report in the name of the working group charged with ensuring the follow-up of the recommendations of the parliamentary Board of inquiry on “cults/sects”


de CORDES Henri – Belgium , President of C.I.A.O.S.N:

The Centre from 1999 to 2005 : a first assessment


SACKVILLE Tom – United Kingdom, President of FAIR, Vice President of FECRIS:

Afternoon session – Introduction


PICARD Catherine – France, President  of  UNADFI:

International lobbying by cults & countervailing powers


JOUGLA Jean-Pierre – France,  UNADFI:  Cultist lobbying – Part II


LEJEUNE Jacques – Belgium, Ex-Jehovah’s Witness speaks of his court case against the organisation


GARDINI Maria-Pia – Italy, ARIS-Toscana:  Narconon, an open door into Scientology


TANASE Laurentiu D. – Romania,  University of Bucharest:

The endogenous and exogenous causes which supported the expansion of cults and new religious movements in Romania after 1989


KLOSINSKI Gunther – Germany, Medical director of the department psychiatry and psychotherapy for children and adolescents with outpatient department, University of Tübingen:

The improper use of strange psychotherapies in psycho-cults: What lesson can be drawn from the observation of people who claim themselves ‘saviours of the world’?


BÉTRENCOURT Nicole – France, Psychologist and author:

Shamanism, an international freeway for a new cultist use of drugs


LARSSON Conny – Sweden, Author of “Behind the mask of the clown”:

Politics, sects, sex and truth


SEMENOV Lev – Russia, University professor, priest, and Ex-Moonie:

My experience within the hierarchy of the Moon cult during its years of expansion in Russia and in the CIS

YURCHENKO Maksym – Ukrania, Attorney, Family and Personality Protection Society, Ukraine

Protecting a child’s rights in the context of forming his belief system


List of the participants


[1] Non Governmental International Organisation