World Premiere of Anti-Cult Law
1 Jun 2001
Final acceptance of the
anti-sect law by the
May 31, 2001
The About-Picard proposed legislation, "with the intent to strengthen prevention and criminal prosecution of sectarian movements," was passed on Wednesday, May 30 by the representatives of the parliamentary groups unanimously.
The text of the legislation, endorsed by the Senate on May 3 (Le Monde of May 5), permits the courts to dissolve legal entities which have the goal of "using psychological or psychic subjugation of persons" and which have been repeatedly criminally convicted. It broadens the legal responsibility of legal entities for certain felonies.
It makes it a crime to fraudulently misuse the weaknesses of people "in a condition of psychological or physical subjugation" by heavy or repeated pressure which is suited to alter judgment. It furthermore permits associations, which fight sects and which are recognized as charitable, to be a party to victims in legal proceedings.
Justice Minister Marylise Lebranchu, in the name of the administration, called for a unanimous vote for the text which had been accepted by the Senate. The bill's sponsor, Representative Catherine Picard (PS), did not hesitate to characterize the bill as a "world premiere."
Various attempts to exert pressure on the parliamentarians apparently did not bear fruit. "We are absolutely thrilled that the sects are infuriated," stated Philippe Vuilque (PS), who believes "the upper American administration has been infected by Scientology." Representative Jean-Pierre Brard (PC) derided a "non-existent campaign by the international lobby of sectarian associations" against the legislation.
He thinks that invention by the President of the French Bishop's Conference, Cardinal Bill=E9, and the President of the Protestant Federation, Pastor de Clermont, which criticized the text of the proposal in a letter to the prime minister (Le Monde of May 23), violated the "separation of powers." Ren=E9 Andr=E9, a representative of the RPR, believed on the other hand that the two clergymen had "the right and the duty to take a position," and that "it would have been an bad sign for the enactment of the proposal if they had been denied that right."
[This article was translated from French to German to English.]
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