FECRIS (European Federation of Centres Research and Information on Sectarianism) was founded on 30 June 1994 in Paris following the Congress on Sectarianism in Barcelona in 1993. It is a non-commercial association under French law. It declare itself politically, philosophically and religiously neutral as stated in article 2 of its statutes.
Its objectives are:
- Rally representative European associations concerned with contemporary organisations with sectarian and totalitarian characteristics, whether legally constituted or not, whose practices violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, European and national laws.
- Represent the member associations in their contacts with the European institutions in the framework of their defence of families, individuals and democratic societies against the activities of harmful sectarian organisations.
- Alert public authorities and international institutions in the event of punishable activities.
- Participate in the creation of a European legal area with regard to sectarian issues.
- Create an international information network.
- Research and study the legal field of sectarian deviations.
The essential basis of reflection and action of the member associations of FECRIS is listening to the victims of abusive or presumed abusive activities. The objectives and the methods of this research and analysis are particularly valuable because of the direct contact with affected individuals.
Sectarian deviations are not static phenomena. Their outward signs are constantly evolving. We base our arguments on verified and up-to-date material.
Our analysis is based on the evidence derived from the behaviour of organisations. It is important to resist the pressure to place cultic behaviour on the safe ground of belief and religion. The discussion is a false one based on a superficial approach to the issues and incompatible with scientific analysis.
We focus on a cult or a guru when the organisation or the individual "trades" in beliefs and in destructive techniques with mind control as a tool. Our conclusions are considered and prudent. They take into account possible misrepresentations and the sorrow and destruction of the victims and their families.
We denounce the uninformed enrolment of individuals into certain thought reform systems and the potentially damaging results to our social, democratic and family structures.
This essential concept having been highlighted, the members of FECRIS agree to co-operate according to the following principles:
- Respect of religious, philosophical and political pluralism;
- Objectivity and pragmatism whilst keeping in mind the complexity of situations.
- Discretion, respect of the professional secrecy.
- Continually question. Never forget that the sectarian phenomenon is constantly evolving.
FECRIS organised a European Conference in Paris on 23 and 24 April 1999 which brought together 250 participants representing 17 countries. The associations present produced a common declaration on measures which they considered should be taken. Herewith you will find the final text of this declaration.