Jehovah's Witnesses
in the heart of a vivid discussion at the sect parliamentary commission

La Croix (17.10.2006) / HRWF Int. (19.10.2006) - Website: - Email: –Jehovah's Witnesses were in the heart of a vivid exchange of arguments about the notion of "disturbance of public order" during a hearing of the parliamentary commission of inquiry on sects and minors.

The commission was hearing Mr. Didier Leschi, head of the Central Office for Religions (Bureau Central des Cultes) at the Ministry of the Interior. He explained that his services "systematically granted the Jehovah's Witnesses associations the (fiscal) advantages of the provisions of the law on the associations cultuelles leaving aside the argument according to which their doctrine was disturbing public order."

Mr. Leschi leans on the jurisprudence of the Council of State which on two occasions granted Jehovah's Witnesses associations the (fiscal) advantages reserved to the associations cultuelles.

The chairman and the rapporteur of the commission, Mssrs. Georges Fennech and Philippe Vuilque, expressed their surprise, considering that the psychological maltreatment of the children of Jehovah's Witnesses mentioned by former members could not be ignored, such as the prohibition of blood transfusion, the door-to-door proselytism activities, etc.

The other members of the commission also insisted on the necessity of taking the suffering of the children in consideration.

Mr. Leschi indicated that he did not know of any such complaints and of any such sentences, and that the defender of the children had not gone to court with any case of maltreatment.

Leaving aside the arguments of the commission, Mr. Leschi said that he "was implementing the juridical framework" and the Central Office for Religions was not in charge of the protection of children."

The parliamentary commission set up on June 28 started its hearings on July 12. It will release its report on December 13.