Combating abuses by sects against minors on PACE agenda

PACE Legal Affairs Committee, meeting today in Paris, expressed its concern over the excesses of sects affecting minors. It proposed establishing more measures and policies at national and European level to protect minors from such abuses, taking the view that the gravity of the problem called for greater efforts by the public authorities.

The report by Rudy Salles (France, EPP/CD), adopted by the committee, states that unfortunately the information on the scale of the phenomenon of sects in Europe is substantially incomplete – particularly for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe – and stresses the lack of practical action in most member states.

To combat the excesses of sects, some member states grant significant leeway to civil society and the “traditional” churches (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant), for example as regards information and assistance to victims. However, more heavyweight measures are needed, the committee feels, in particular the strengthening of state monitoring of private schools and home schooling, awareness-raising measures for welfare services, judges and police to detect threats to minors’ welfare, penalisation of abuse of personal weakness by introducing an explicit provision into the Criminal Code, and production of statistics on excesses of sects.

The committee also proposes that national parliaments set up study groups on the phenomenon of sects and its impact on minors.

Mr Salles’ report will be debated on Thursday 10 April in Strasbourg during the PACE plenary session.