European Human Rights Office
Church of Scientology
9 rue General MacArthur
Phone: 32 2 347 1648
Fax: 32 2 347 4290
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3rd April 2003
Contact: Martin Weightman
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY LAUNCHES THIRD MAJOR COMPLAINT
IN A WEEK AGAINST GERMAN GOVERNMENT
Brussels Human Rights Office asks OSCE to step in.
With a demand for an end to 30 years of governmental harassment and
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
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
Contrary to OSCE principles, the influential Bavarian and Hamburg state
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
the United States, Sweden, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and
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
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
"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
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.