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FECRIS fined for repeated derogatory statements about Jehovah’s Witnesses


HRWF (09.07.2021) – On 27 November 2020, the District Court of Hamburg condemned FECRIS (European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Cults and Sect) for defaming the general movement of Jehovah’s Witnesses in public statements made in the framework of its conferences from 2009 to 2017 that were posted later on its website.

Before deciding to go to court, Jehovah’s Witnesses had sent a warning notice via their authorized legal representatives on 18 May 2018 but FECRIS did not react.   The German court verdict in the case Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany v. FECRIS (File ref. 324 O 434/18) concerned a long list of 32 claimed defamatory statements: 17 were fully justified and one was partially justified by the Court.  

On 30 May 2021, after Bitter Winter had exposed this case, FECRIS published a press release where it claimed that it had “won” the Hamburg case. This was repeated by some FECRIS affiliates in different countries, but it was just an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of those who have not read the decision. The court decision is available in German and in English on HRWF website.

Since the Jehovah’s Witnesses had claimed that 32 FECRIS statements were defamatory, and the court found 17 of them defamatory, one partially defamatory, and 14 non-defamatory, FECRIS claimed that it had “won” the case since the 14 statements declared non-defamatory were “essential,” and the 18 points for which they were sentenced were “ancillary.”

See full analysis on: https://hrwf.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Germany-2021.pdf

And another article on: https://hrwf.eu/germany-fecris-sentenced-for-slanderous-statements-about-jehovahs-witnesses/

Willy Fautre

Willy Fautré, former chargé de mission at the Cabinet of the Belgian Ministry of Education and at the Belgian Parliament. He is the director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, an NGO based in Brussels that he founded in 1988. His organization defends human rights in general but also the rights of persons belonging to historical religions, non-traditional, and new religious movements. It is apolitical and independent from any religion. He has carried out fact-finding missions on human rights and religious freedom in more than 25 countries He is a lecturer in universities in the field of religious freedom and human rights. He has published many articles in university journals about relations between states and religions. He organizes conferences at the European Parliament, including on freedom of religion or belief in China. For years, he has developed religious freedom advocacy in European institutions, at the OSCE, and at the UN.

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