European Human Rights Office
Church of Scientology
9 rue General MacArthur
1180 Brussels

Phone: 32 2 347 1648
Fax: 32 2 347 4290
E-mail: 101540.51@compuserve.com


Contact: Martin Weightman


Brussels Human Rights Office asks OSCE to step in.

With a demand for an end to 30 years of governmental harassment and discrimination against its parishioners in Germany, the Church of Scientology's Human Rights Office in Europe has today launched the third major complaint in a week against the German government.

In a 15-page letter to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Church's Human Rights Director Europe, Martin Weightman, has requested assistance to force two German states to abandon a planned attempt to flagrantly violate OSCE mandates on freedom of religion and belief.

The request comes on the heels of two lawsuits filed this week against the German government, one by the Church of Scientology Berlin and the other by the Church of Scientology Munich.

Both lawsuits ask the courts to prohibit the government from continued "surveillance" of Scientologists by the state security police, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (OPC). The lawsuits point out that the German government's own evidence shows the measure to be harassing, discriminatory and based on no facts.

In his complaint to Christian Strohal, Director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Mr. Weightman describes a history of discriminatory conduct towards Scientologists by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which controls the coalition government in Hamburg, and the CDU's ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which governs Bavaria.

Mr. Weightman points out that the Church of Scientology and its members have been under some form of "investigation" by German authorities since 1973. Every investigation has concluded with the same result: no wrongdoing found by churches of Scientology and their officials.

"Yet the Bavarian and Hamburg governments plan to target all Scientologists in flagrant defiance of these findings," said Mr. Weightman. "Like a police state regime, they completely ignore the rulings of their own courts, which have found Scientologists to be law-abiding citizens dedicated to their religion."

Contrary to OSCE principles, the influential Bavarian and Hamburg state governments plan to use the next conference of state and federal interior ministers in May to press for a radical catalogue of measures against Scientologists. The Bavarian government declared its intention to press for these measures in November 2002. On March 6, 2003 the CDU-dominated Hamburg parliament enacted a motion urging that Hamburg support Bavaria in urging adoption of the measures by the federal government. This week the U.S. State Department, in its 2002 Annual Human Rights Report, again criticized the German government for religious discrimination against Scientologists. Instances of such discrimination can be found at Fehler! Textmarke nicht definiert..

Mr. Weightman points out that the Bavarian and Hamburg government's proposed actions contravene unequivocal recent legal pronouncements of the European Human Rights Court that have been endorsed and applied to minority religions by the OSCE.

Scientology has been officially recognised as a religion by governments including the United States, Sweden, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Kyrgyzstan, and by scores of governmental agencies and courts in Europe, including more than 40 court rulings in Germany.


The German government's discriminatory and oppressive actions against the Church of Scientology and its members violate fundamental human rights instruments. Major and prolonged investigations into Scientology entities in Germany have all been dismissed with no evidence of wrongdoing found: in Hamburg, starting in 1991 and dismissed 1994; in Stuttgart, starting in 1992 and dismissed in 1997; and in Munich, starting in 1984 and ending in 1994. The memorandum of dismissal by Hamburg's senior state prosecutor was typical: He noted that despite exhaustive investigations throughout the length and breadth of Germany, no evidence of illegal activity had been found. No evidence has ever been found because none exists.

In defiance of these facts, however, and directly contrary to the principles of fair justice inherent in a democracy, the German government has kept the Church and its members under some form of government "investigation" for 30 years. Yet the government's own investigations provide ample evidence that these measures are harassing. Specifically, on October 25, 1996, prior to surveillance of the Church, Germany's leading daily, ~Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung~, reported that German federal ministries, including the Interior Ministry, had concluded no evidence existed to justify it.

An Associated Press wire of November 5, 1996 also reported this, based on an expert opinion drawn up for the Interior Ministry of Niedersachen, one of Germany's 16 states. The expert opinion concluded that the Church of Scientology "lacks political objectives necessary for an observation" and that Scientology "is not a politically determined organization."

Despite these clear findings, eight months later the federal Minister of Interior reversed his position, apparently under intense pressure from the Bavarian Interior Ministry. According to U.S. State Department documents released to the Church under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, the federal Minister's reversal persuaded all but one of Germany's 16 states to place the Church under surveillance. Only Schleswig-Holstein refused. When the Schleswig-Holstein Interior and Justice Ministers reviewed their decision in January 1999, they concluded that the results of observation in the rest of Germany fully justified Schleswig-Holstein refusal to participate in groundless and unconstitutional surveillance of the Church.

As further evidence that surveillance of Scientologists is harassing, in December 2002 the chairman of the Ministers of Interior Conference in Germany was obliged to admit that six years of OPC surveillance of the Church and its members had, once again, produced no evidence of illegal activity. Moreover, a "Special Alerts Office" on Scientology set up by the Bundeskriminalamt [Federal Criminal Office] in February 1995 had been closed down in February 2001 for that exact reason. The Conference chairman's statement reiterated a November 2000 statement by the federal government making the same point: no evidence existed of illegal activities by the Church of Scientology Germany or its members.

A December 2001 ruling by the Berlin Administrative Court enjoined the Berlin state OPC from attempting to recruit Scientology parishioners for purposes of infiltration or spying on the Church. The Court noted that no evidence existed to justify such measures and particularly criticized the OPC for seeking to conduct a "permanent observation" despite such lack of evidence.

The U.S. State Department has criticized the German government for religious discrimination against Scientologists in its last nine human rights reports and all its religious freedom reports.