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Swiss committee urges protection from ‘dangerous’ sects and cults

A parliamentary committee said Friday the government must break the “taboo” of sects and cults and take firm measures to protect children and consumers against abuse by those groups.

This content was published on July 2, 1999 - 15:46

A parliamentary committee said Friday the government must break the “taboo” of sects and cults and take firm measures to protect children and consumers against abuse by those groups.

“Religion is no longer simply a matter of the individual,” said Alexander Tschäppät, president of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives.

He said that children in particular must be protected from sects and cults, which sometimes violated basic rights and freedoms of the individual, such as the right to leave a group.

Not least in light of the approaching millennium and the potential risks posed by doomsday cults, the government should take moves to protect the individual from abuse while maintaining the freedom of religion in Switzerland, Tschäppät said.

The committee presented a list of reform proposals and called on the government to:

- Define a federal policy on sects and cults and coordinate its implementation at a federal and cantonal level.

- Set up an information and counselling centre.

- Launch an information campaign.

- Ensure stricter enforcement of current legislation on protecting children and consumers.

The committee accused the government of simply not doing enough, particularly in light of the fact that Switzerland had the highest density of cults and sects of any country in Europe.

“The government’s stance in this matter has simply become unacceptable,” said Tschäppät.

He referred to the government’s position that freedom of religion was enshrined in the Swiss constitution and that the cantons – and not the federal government – were in charge of religious matters.


Sources: APD, sda-ats

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