FECRIS is the “European Federation of Centers for Research and Information on Sectarianism.
It was founded in Paris on 30 June 1994 on the initiative of the French association UNADFI (National Union of Associations for the Defense of the Family and the Individual).
FECRIS is a federation of European associations which is registered in France as a non-profit organization under the 1901 Law on associations.
Every year, FECRIS holds a general assembly and a colloquium on a specific anti-sect topic. It practices an intense lobbying and applies a strategy of “deep entrism” inside governmental institutions where it is spreading false and misleading information about minority groups in an attempt to stir up hysteria on the entire subject.
It is noteworthy that the list of movements affiliated to FECRIS is growing.
There are two main reasons for this and a purpose:
- It collects lists of names of associations which it claims to be “member associations” or “correspondents”. The length of the list sounds impressive but, in fact, many of the names listed are only empty shells, the associations having folded up years ago and only still remain as a name on Internet.
- According to observers of the anti-sect phenomenon, this growth is also due to the fact that FECRIS is just a melting pot of associations with various, even contradictory vested interests which see an opportunity to ally to fight against religious minorities. It is experiencing internal dissensions, which is understandable as it has lumped together competing traditional religions, such as the Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox churches, and anti-religious movements, such as atheistic associations.
Another example of misrepresentation: it counts the US association I.C.S.A. (International Cultic Studies Association), as a non European correspondent. But the real story is that FECRIS members are very bigots and despise the more scholarly and open ICSA members while the ICSA members prefer to not mix with the fanatic and secretive members of FECRIS. However, like everywhere, we can always find a few exceptions, people who like to go into many pots.
The purpose: it is obvious when we know that FECRIS is mainly financed by the French Prime Minister Office. The share of donations by individual members is very small in comparison with the public funding the organization receives. Without this “flashy image” they try to convey, they would not get this funding.
FECRIS information is biased and unscientific as can be seen from some few examples given here. Furthermore, whilst ‘crying wolf’ about religious minorities (who are in fact rarely involved in misconduct and if individual members are, they should be dealt with with the normal tools of justice) they themselves have a track record of being convicted in numerous court cases throughout their existence.
One striking example is previous President of FECRIS, Friedrich Griess and his predecessor Maria Rosa Boladeros. Friedrich Griess took over the Presidency of FECRIS in 2005 at which point he had already been convicted at least 7 times in German and Austrian courts for making unsupported and false claims that the group he had been libeling, amongst other things, engages in ‘incest, adultery and deceit’. Even when ordered by the court to correct the statements on his website he had refused and was again convicted for violation of settlement agreement.
Ms Boladeros, the previous President of FECRIS, was also involved in criminal activity in so far as she was President of the Spanish group AIS/Pro Juventud. This group was involved in court cases involving the kidnapping of people on at least two occasions. The intention was to forcibly change the kidnapped person’s religious views. One of these cases went to the European Court of Human Rights which ruled against the activity. There are at least 21 known court cases where FECRIS groups or individual members have been found guilty of committing offenses. A list referencing all these cases is attached. Both Griess and Boladeras are somehow fitting representatives of FECRIS with such records. However, it is not only in their actions that the real intentions of FECRIS can be judged, but also in their words and the way that they classify and discriminate against their targeted groups.
FECRIS members are holding in contempt the real values that make a free society.
A recent example of this was once again demonstrated in the 2013 FECRIS conference that took place in Copenhagen. A Danish-Pakistani journalist, author and consultant regarding minority rights who was invited to attend the conference was almost “lynched” after he asked the current president of FECRIS, Tom Sackville, some legitimate questions. These, obviously, did not align with the intolerant and extremist mindset of FECRIS members.
You can watch here the interview this journalist gave after this incident. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQJuHpLZBtQ
These are but a few examples of how FECRIS deals with this issue. Whilst there may well be a need for objective and unbiased information which is founded in academic study and information based on human rights and legal principles, FECRIS cannot and does not provide this. An approach based on their criteria can only result in discrimination and injustice and the destruction of democracy;
Legal decisions again FECRIS member groups
Extracts or summaries of judgments concerning FECRIS member groups and individuals (Note: this list is not exhaustive)
1. Friedrich Griess, Secretary General of FECRIS Court case: 17Cg 15/96d in Vienna Commercial court in Sept. 1996. Conviction for defamation about the Christian Family Fellowship, Styrian Christian Fellowship and the Life Fellowship (Norwegian Movement) including that they enlist people by “flirty fishing”, engage in incest, adultery and deceit.
2. Friedrich Griess, Secretary General of FECRIS Court case: 17Cg 15/96d in Vienna Commercial court in March 1997. Conviction for defamation with regard to the Christian Family Fellowship, Styrian Christian Fellowship and the Life Fellowship (Norwegian Movement) “Norwegians”.
3. Friedrich Griess, Secretary General of FECRIS Court case: 37Cg 77/98x in Vienna Commercial court on Sept 1998. Conviction for defamation for alleging that the Christian Family Fellowship, Styrian Christian Fellowship and the Life Fellowship (Norwegian Movement). Fine of 60,000 Austrian shillings
4. Friedrich Griess, Secretary General of FECRIS Court case: 17 O 85/98 in Stuttgart County Court in Germany – June 1998. Conviction for defamation against the “Norwegian movement”
5. Friedrich Griess, Secretary General of FECRIS Court case: 37Cg 19/00y in Vienna Commercial court in March 2000. Conviction for defamation and ordered by court to publish a correction statement on his web page and establish a link to the web page of the Norwegian Movement.
6. Friedrich Griess, Secretary General of FECRIS Court case: GZ 8E 3407/00 w in Klosterneuburg District Court. Violation of settlement agreement. He did not pay a fine and was ordered to remove false information from his web page and from search engines.
7. Friedrich Griess, Secretary General of FECRIS Judgement procedure GZ 8F 2687/02 s-3 in Klosterneuburg District Court. Violation of settlement agreement and order to pay a fine.
8. SADK, 1990 [FECRIS member group], Switzerland In 1990, two members of FECRIS member group SADK were sentenced to prison in connection with a violent deprogramming attempt on a member of the Hare Krishna movement. Mr. Rossi, who at the time was the spokesman for SADK, spoke out loudly in favour of the deprogramming (during which the victim had been subdued with tear gas) saying “We support and approve of the deed.”
9. FRI, 1990 [FECRIS member group], Sweden Case Nr B4901-88, ref.Nr. 75636712, issued December 19, 1990. In this judgement FRI-member Eva Pehrsson (now Pohl) was sentenced for the illegal deprivation of liberty and kidnapping of Gustavsson.
10. FAIR, 1987 [FECRIS member group], United Kingdom Cyril Vosper, at the time an executive board member of FAIR, was convicted in Germany for false imprisonment and bodily harm in December 1987. 11. ADFI Paris [FECRIS member group] was condemned by the Paris County Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) for defamation regarding Mrs. Josiane Henri and Mr. Ian Combe. (Decision RP 59 656, RG 7 987/92, ASS/20.02.92, CIVIL TRIAL COURT OF GENERAL JURIDICTION OF PARIS, 1st Chamber, 1st Section) 27th May 1992.
12. Mrs. Tavernier [President of a FECRIS member group]. 5th January 1994. Criminal conviction for defamation. The Paris Court of Appeal confirmed the judgment regarding the culpability of libel of Mrs. Tavernier and the punishment imposed on her by the Paris County court on 22nd June 1993. Decision n° 5490/93, APPEAL COURT OF PARIS, 11th Chamber on 5th January 1994
13. Mrs. Ovigneur-Dewynter, President of ADFI Nord [FECRIS member group],15th January 1997. The Douai Court of Appeal condemned Mrs. Ovigneur-Dewynter, President of ADFI Nord for defamation regarding the Cultural Association of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in France. Case N° 96/02832, Decision on January 15th, 1997, 4th Chamber, APPEAL COURT OF DOUAI
14. Jacky Cordonnier, [member of UNADFI, FECRIS member group]. 29th March 2002. Criminal conviction for defamation. The Marseille County Court condemned her for libel regarding the association of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Decision n° 2972/02 Number 01207964
15. Janine Tavernier President of UNADFI [FECRIS member group]. 5th February 2003. The Paris Court of Appeal confirmed the judgment in the civil proceedings against Janine Tavernier and UNADFI (decisions of the Paris County Court of 20 November 2001). Case N° 01/03757, Decision of February 5th, 2003, APPEAL COURT OF PARIS, 11th Chamber, section A
16. AGPF and Sect-Info Essen [FECRIS member groups]. The German Federal Supreme Court ruled on 27 March 1992 that it was unconstitutional for the State to provide funding for organisations such as AGPF and Sect-Info Essen, both FECRIS member groups. (The case was brought by the new religious movement, OSHO, Ref. Case Nr. 7C21-90LU66).That AGPF and Sect-Info Essen deal with new religious movements in a way that cannot be considered objective or neutral was made clear in this decision.
17. Heide-Marie Cammans, founder of Sect-info Essen [FECRIS member group]. In a final judgment on 19th December 2001 by the Munich State Court, Ms. Heide-Marie Cammans, founder of FECRIS member group Sect-info Essen was ordered to stop circulating falsehoods about Takar Singh (an Eastern religious group) on pain of being fined up to 500,000 DM or, if not paid, jailed for up to 6 months. Case Nr. Az: 908736/99 Munich I State court, 9 civil chamber (German: Landgericht Munchen I).
18. Ian Haworth is a FECRIS founding member and runs the UK group Cult Information Centre (CIC). He has a court decision against him on 24 Oct 1989, when the Supreme Court of Ontario (Canada) ordered he pay $10,000 in libel damages to a philosophical group. At the time Mr. Haworth was involved in a similar group to CIC in Canada. On the 17 April 1996 there is also a UK High Court decision against him for non-payment of the damages award
19. Siren (FECRIS correspondent group] 27 March 1997. 2 members of the group were convicted of kidnapping in The Netherlands.
20. AIS/PRO Juventud [FECRIS member group] (Canals case 1995) Spain which states that: "That the group AIS had intervened in all breaches of fundamental rights which the accused has suffered of. That neither the President nor her group had any consent at all to carry out any ‘therapeutic work’ on him. That this group did not have any kind of judicial authorization to replace the lack of ‘consent’ of the supposedly ill person. That in consequence, in a State of Rights, it is not possible to tolerate the degradation, whatever the purpose may be, of a citizen that has proven his mental integrity."
21. AIS/PRO Juventud [FECRIS member group] (Riera Blume case, 1999) European Court of Human Rights which states that “In the light of the foregoing, the Court considers that the national authorities at all times acquiesced in the applicants’ loss of liberty. While it is true that it was the applicants’ families and the Pro Juventud association that bore the direct and immediate responsibility for the supervision of the applicants during their ten days’ loss of liberty, it is equally true that without the active cooperation of the Catalan authorities the deprivation of liberty could not have taken place.”