Summary of the contributions, as noted by Jacques Richard, honorary president of FECRIS, translated by Mireille Degen.
Turid BERGER, SAVE THE CHILDREN' S PROJECT " Go On "
Helping second generation ex-members enter society after leaving isolated religious communities/New Religious Movements (NRM)
Turid BERGER was accompanied by two members of SAVE THE CHILDREN.
Angelina DYKE testified on her own behalf and on that of Andrew Mc MILLION.
We thank them for their courage in sharing their evidence with the meeting.
As former members of the Family (ex-Children of God) having lived 21 years in the cult, they suffered because experts had been hoodwinked "we are the real experts!" they declared.
Turid: " I do not know of any minor who did not undergo sexual abuse ".
Angelina: "I would like to forgive them, if at least these people showed regret; as far as I’m concerned, these people have committed evil".
"I must think for myself. The Family caused much wrong, we were unprepared and unable to fend for ourselves, we were to be " missionaries ". We came out of there without any means of subsistence. How could we grow up with the prospect that the world was in its last throes? How could we make projects? concentrate?"
"We need to catch up in a very short time on all we missed. We feel stronger, although always floating between two "worlds".
It is difficult to live without the group, to acquire a new status; we are afraid of being alone; afraid of others’ opinion, of not being accepted; we feel guilty of the cult’s acts. Each member, under pressure of serious threats, has sworn to keep giving financial support.
When did you leave?
Andrew Mc Million: "In 1992 when I was 16 years old, in the USA. The first year was very difficult; I was unable to think; for four or five years I had problems, then I did my military service.
"Did Flirty-fishing cease?"
Answer: Under external pressure yes, but only up to a certain point; there was the Charter of 1995.
"What do you think of the Special reception centres?"
"When the Social centres do not believe us, they are useful; they may even be vital " Now "Save the children" is recognized a an NGO by the Council of Europe.
Anne FOURNIER, delegated by the M.I.L.S. France
WHAT PATHS FOR PREVENTION?
Children are a major prize for all cults. In France there are estimated to be 60,000 children "prisoners", getting insufficient education, often in great distress. Among the specific risks: absence of medical care, separation in distant ashrams, "several parents" lived as a desertion by the child.
Confronted by this phenomenon, the Republic preaches secularity as an opening to others and on the world, whilst respecting private beliefs and convictions, but forbidding any recruiting in school. Secularity aims at developing civic behaviour in a democracy, without, however, omitting the place played by emotion in education.
An important step forward in education was made in France by the recent S. Royal law, which makes it possible to control the kind of education given in all schools without exception.
The About-Picard Law, ratified by the Parliament on 30/5/01 makes it possible to progress:
Very appreciated intervention, but which attracts a quasi general criticism relating to a certain leniency in the opinion relating to Jehovah Witnesses in the last M.I.L.S.
An animated debate followed. However, a certain leniency with regard to Jehovah’s Witnesses in the M.I.L.S. Report was criticised. In particular the Jehovah’s Witnesses refusal of good citizenship manifested by the cult forbidding its followers to vote. This prohibition is seen as directly destroying democracy and thus the spirit of the Constitution. No "reason of State" (the expression is of the lecturer) can nor should justify an obvious refusal of good citizenship. Associations must hold their role.
Italian contribution to the Study of satanic and sadomasochistic abuse in various religious groups, circles of VIP and trade of minors
In this presentation, is revealed the current situation with regard to the disappearance of minors in Italy. The authorities advance important figures which are widely below the reality on the ground.
2,000 minors disappeared in Italy in 1998.
The talk presented some isolated cases and implied others showing the importance of the trade of minors in Italy.
There is an interrogation on the possible relationship between the disappearance of these minors and the cults’ phenomenon in particular when "satanist" or "sadomasochistic" cults could be implied.
Information, more or less well investigated, suggested that the possibility existed that these missing minors might have been brought into cults and that there they underwent violent and bloody rituals.
At the end of the talk, an updated list of "satanist" cults in Italy was presented. In particular those known by the media for crimes and their links with paedophile criminality.
Paedophilia: from specific cases to organised crime the omnipresence of cultish elements
Several means of approach used in paedophilia:
This traffic is protected by corruption.
Organised crime also exploits applications for adoption (forged identity papers, lawyers accessory to new-born export). True-false papers for forged declarations of paternity on embryos.
In Morocco there were luxury weekend centres where paedophiles gather (the pretext: business seminars. A refined structure enjoyed protections in the police force and among magistrates.)
Evidence given by children described more and more violent cultish torture rituals. A cdrom obtained in Berne was sent to Interpol but remained without response. The person who had sent it perished in quite an incredible accident…
Trustworthy children as witnesses gave testimony with regard to satanism, followed by murder. These testimonies were transmitted to France and the cases were closed without further investigation.
NB: As traditional family models disappear, the child looks for them in the street.
EDUCATING YOUTH ABOUT CULTS
Himself an ex-cult victim, he has given conferences in schools for 23 years.
He has written a practical Guide destined for all publics, because cults do not only address young people, but also adults at very high level.
In the U.K., he counts more than 500 cults. Young people between 15 and 18 years, from well-to-do families are the most exposed to recruitment.
He can only go to private schools, for the State schools do not have any ad hoc resources.
Public action is blocked by the pro-cult organisations.
A speaker said that the Russian experience was very different: recruitment prevailed of teenagers of less than 15 years whose mother works.
SOME PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS ON SECTARIANISM HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS
The United Kingdom was very slow to ratify the universal Declaration of Human Rights, then the Convention on the Rights of the Child (not signed by the USA and Somalia).
In the U.K. the European Convention of the Rights of the Child was ratified the 2/10/2000.
Art 3 forbids degrading treatments. This allowed some legal success, in particular against a man member of small a "Christian" cult. Shown to beat the children severely. He claimed that he "had his own version of human rights".
"We must work hard, and modestly, as lawyers to have evidence; we have to educate the courts. They do not like that."
Several participants took part in the debate that followed. As a result of this discussion, it appeared:
Solicitor, one of the two lecturers responsible for the programme leading to a degree on Victimology related to harmful cults - Faculty of Medicine, Lyons 1.
Legal considerations in French law of sectarian psychological abuse of the child.
Always in search of respectability, cults increasingly hide behind the mask of "useful social role". The Courts, knowing only the penal side (litigations in divorce cases, children’s visiting rights) tend to ignore the harm that children can undergo in uncontrolled sectarian groups. "In my jurisdiction my action in favour of children was perceived as an attack to basic freedoms". To make myself understood by people with regard to the cults’ project on children I have to use politically orientated language.
In a cult there is confusion with regard to empowerment; the Guru is the Legislator, the Executive and the Law. In Jehovah’s Witnesses groups, the child victim, like the adult, is subjected to the Committee of Elders, without a lawyer and without having the possibility of appeal. But it is difficult to make people admit that abuse leads to submissiveness and then blocks the possibility of access to citizenship.
Weight should be given to art.9 of Recommendation 1.412 of the Council of Europe, which attaches great importance to the protection of the most vulnerable in the event of mind control techniques being used by cults.
In France the laws Ségolène Royal, and About-Picard can be used to make Magistrates face up to the reality of a situation, in particular for the protection of the most vulnerable.
The problem of cults is crucial for democracy. To use a child as an object and make him into a non-citizen is the worst possible abuse.
J.P. Jougla is co-responsible of courses on Victimology related to the harmful effects of sectarianism for the obtention of a University degree on the subject in the Faculty of Medicine of Lyons 1.
One of the participants who is a lawyer at the Bar, stressed the interest of the
teaching of victimology related to harmful sectarian groups. In the Faculty of Medicine of Lyons 1, courses are given three days a month. She thinks that this work should be made known in other countries. In France, she said, there were not enough specialists. Most of the investigators appointed by the Courts had in fact no understanding of the cult problem.
Note: Jacques Richard drew attention to the interest that there would be for FECRIS to contact the International Police Association, which counts some 300,000 members in 54 countries. Address: 28 Avenue de Friedland, 75017 Paris.
Children victims of cults
She has worked for 25 years on children brought by anxious parents concerned for their development following a sectarian implication of one or both parents in a cult.
Although a child in a cult always suffers from psychic abuse, parents who are adepts (themselves victims of sectarian influence), do not perceive their child’s suffering. Therefore, unlike those parents who are divorced or married to a cult member, they do not request psychotherapeutic assistance.
The gravity of the disorders depends on five factors:
Experience with recovery from cults for youngsters in "Odenwälder Wohnhof", a Europe-wide unique project for crisis intervention for people leaving cults
Study of the case of a 22-year old woman having come out of a satanic cult.
Total impossibility to undertake the least initiative, quasi amnesia. She had been
recruited at school by a small friend. In the cult: sexual abuse, to prove her "loyalty" to the group. She took part in ritual torture, among others the torture of a baby. With the same motivations, she participated in setting her parents’ house on fire.
Even after her stay in the centre « Odenwälder Wohnhof », then in another centre, after several months of trying different psychotherapies, she still felt she was a member of the group, during this floating-time: she wondered "whether the cult would still admit her?"
Of course, she refused to make any statement to the police.
The way the centre functions appears to be particularly liberal: boarders have contact with a benevolent and co-operating village population. Walks in the forest, jogging, cycling, ice-skating.
The boarders are asked to write their diary, and to explain what they know about the techniques of mind control used in the cult and to say why they left their Community group.
Currently the project has Federal support for a 5-year period.
Remark: Later, FECRIS received at letter from Inge Mamay stating that the experience of this young woman was partly simulated.
Cults, Children and Harm : the Response of local Education Authorities and social Services Departments in the UK
In the U.K. there is a legal framework for the protection of the child by the local Authorities.
The safety of the child is regarded as a priority. At the same time group rape is not recognised.
Investigation into the death of Victoria in the "Universal Church of the Kingdom of God", where the cult had concluded that she needed to be exorcized. Under its religious mask the church, justified its abuse by making the child feel guilty.
Context: minimisation of women's rights, discipline very rigid.
The child cannot say that it is in a cult, and wants to protect its parents.
The authorities should learn the lessons from such cases.
In the U.K. few politicians are ready to assume these problems. Tragedies in sight.
Miguel PERLADO Recacha
Notes taken during the presentation, reported by Jacques RICHARD
Underlined the lack of communication parents/children. It is necessary to restore the possibility of a space of discussion between the parents and the child.
The child’s creativity should not be underestimated and gives him the means to overcome a situation.
Avoid attaching labels too soon.
There are few studies on the repercussion of cultish influence over the children.
SERBIA – ex-YOUGOSLAVIA
Cults - a new social and medico-psychological problem
Contemporary cults generate a new field of social psychiatry. They very often produce a new form of physical and mind-soul dependence accompanied by a true syndrome of self-denial. The author presents two models of how dependence is induced: the psychological model and the neuro-physiological/biochemical model as the consequences of mind control, psycho-physical destabilisation and finally of the psycho-trauma suffered by a follower, victim of a cult.He explains the role of natural opiates in the body: endorphin and encephalin. According to the N.A.J.T. research, 86 % of followers present symptoms of psycho-trauma as an emotional and cognitive wound.
SERBIE – ex YOUGOSLAVIE
Some reflections on the mind control practised by cults in Yugoslavia and its consequences on minors
Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, have been invaded by cultish movements since the last decade of XXth Century
The author underlines that the psychological, social, economic, political, spiritual and denominational context is very unfavourable and unlikely to facilitate the decoding of the expansion and proliferation of cultish groups in Yugoslavia.
Children and other minors are very vulnerable and mind control causes very serious psycho-trauma on this population in full process of emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual and psychosexual development.
Jurgen ZILLIKENS, jurist, Vice-President of KIDS - Germany (Leverkussen)
Cult adherence and its consequences for parents custody
This Association mainly intervenes in questions of custody and supervision of children in a Jehovah environment.
German law makes it possible only to intervene following accomplished negative facts. It covers the protection of goods and the right to personality improvement.
Frankfort judgement 1994: when a cult gives an authoritative and anti-civic education, the State must grant custody to the not-sectarian parent; in such cases, religious freedom is considered as secondary especially when it classifies people into "good" and "bad".
However, Court decisions are not very clear for judges are very set on freedom of worship, and are unaware of mind control techniques. Furthermore, cults have experience and present an acceptable facade inspired by a booklet made in the USA.
Following the parliamentary report, KIDS asked Parliament that an ad hoc training be given to magistrates. The legislator accepted, but this has not as yet, been organised.
Furthermore, the anti-discriminatory legislation constitutes an umbrella.
Our role is to inform the State; so that it does not wait for the child’s fall to act