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Final Report of the Enquete Commission on "So-called
Sects and Psychogroups" of the Bundestag
Recommendations for action
(Empfehlungen der Enquete-Kommission des Deutschen Bundestages "Sogenannten Sekten und Psychogruppen" in englischer Sprache)
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|Final Report of the Enquete Commission
on "So-called Sects and Psychogroups"
New Religious and Ideological Communities and Psychogroups in the Federal Republic of Germany
The complete report in english packed as zip or exe:
6.2 Recommendations for action
6.2.1 Constitutional appraisal
22.214.171.124 Artide 4 of the German Constitution
The Enquete Commission recommends that the German Bundestag should not amend or supplement Art. 4 of the German Constitution.
126.96.36.199 Rights of corporate bodies 334)
The Enquete Commission recommends that the German Bundestag should not amend or supplement Art. 140 of the German Constitution 1 Art. 137 (5) of the Weimar Constitution.
Based on the findings (described in Chapter 188.8.131.52) of its hearing of constitutional experts, the Commission does not share the German Federal Government's view that the introduction of a legal regime for the provision of public funds for private counselling and information centres is not compatible with the principles laid down in the German Constitution. Basic rights may create a direct obligation for government to ensure that a legally protected right - in particular an individual's life and physical integrity - is not violated unlawfully by third parties, including private individuals. 335)
For this reason, the Commission calls upon the 14th German Bundestag
to adopt a legal regime which will explicitly introduce and permit direct
public funding of private institutions.
The Enquete Commission recommends that during its next legislative period
the German Bundestag should begin deliberations on, and adopt, a federal
act governing contracts in the field of commercial life-counselling services,
based on the bill introduced by the Bundesrat (the second chamber of the
German parliament) (Bundestag Doc. 13/9717).
The Enquete Commission has found that legal policy debate on this issue is still in its infancy. The discussion draft presented (see Chapter 184.108.40.206) and the German Federal Govemment's pending answer to the written question submitted by the parliamentary group of the SPD (Bundestag Doc. 13/9682) will probably call for in-depth deliberations.
For this reason, the Commission recommends that the 14th German Bundestag
should begin deliberations on the introduction of a legislation on responsibility
under criminal law for legal entities and associations of persons; such
legislation should make it possible to punish, reprimand, or impose other
sanctions on, criminal enterprises, associations or other groups of persons.
220.127.116.11 Including pyramid selling in the scope of application of
legislation on financial and insurance services intermediaries
The Enquete Commission suggests that during the upcoming deliberations on the Bundesrat's "Bill on the Exercise of the Profession of Financial and Insurance Services Intermediaries, and on the Establishment of an Advisory Board Attached to the Bundesaufsichtsamt für das Kreditwesen (German Federal Banking Supervisory Office)" (Bundestag Doc. No. 13/9421 of 29 Jan.1998), the 14th German Bundestag should examine whether the scope of application of this legislation can be extended to indude pyramid selling and multi-level marketing systems. As described above (see Chapter 5.3), there is not only a "grey capital market" but there is also a confusing services market which is not only limited to financial services. The purpose of this modification in the proposed legislation would be to reduce the legal uncertainty that currently prevails for the individuals aftected.
The Enquete Commission recommends that the German Federal Government should assign the following responsibilities to the Federal Administrative Office by adding a separate provision in the Act on the Establishment of the Federal Adminstrative Office (BVAG - Gesetz über die Einrichtung des Bundesverwaltungsamtes), in line with the current systematic approach already adopted:
The Federal Administrative Office shall act as an information and documentation centre with the name of "new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups".
More specifically, the Federal Administrative Oftice shall have the following responsibilities:
1. To collect and evaluate materials which are important for the development in the field of "new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups", induding organisations or associations which are linked with such communities or groups, either legally and commercially or in terms of their religious and ideological objectives;
2. To provide information in the field of "new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups" to offices of the German Federal Govemment and of the state-level governments, as weil as to all information and counselling centres of public corporations and institutions or (private) centres devoted to caring for individuals affected by "new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups";
3. To publish information leaflets and other materials to educate the public at large and professionals in the field as to the hazards prevailing in the field of "new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups".
The legal uncertainty prevailing in the field of association law, as described in Chapter 18.104.22.168, calls for the adoption of more precise provisions.
For this reason, the Enquete Commission recommends that the 14th German Bundestag should amend the current association law in order to ensure that the activities of religious communities shall not be unconstitutional. In this context, it will have to be examined whether in future it will be possible to dispense with the exemption of religious communities from the scope of application of the Associations Act (Section 2 (2) dause 3 of the Associations Act).
In addition, care must be taken to ensure that only associations which show a modicum of loyalty vis-ä-vis the German Constitution and the German legal system will enjoy benefits such as the recognition of their non-profit status for tax purposes.
The Enquete Commission recommends that the 14th German Bundestag should clearly define what the "art of healing" is by induding the following wording in the Act on Non-medical Practitioners:
Section 1(2) of the Act on Non-medical Practitioners: "The art of healing, as defined in this law, shall be any professional or business activity aimed at identifying, healing or relieving diseases, ailments or physical injuries of people, also when such activity is exercised by individuals employed by third parties. In this context, it shall be sufficient if the impression is created in the minds of the treated individuals that the activity is aimed at healing or at least relieving the ailments mentioned above."
The Enquete Commission suggests that the German Bundestag should examine the possibility of introducing "healing fraud" as a criminal offence in the fraud provisions of the German Penal Code. In order to clarify existing rules, a provision should be added to cover those cases in which patients are deceived with regard to the eftectiveness of treatment methods.
In addition, the German Bundestag should examine whether it is possible
to define uniform licensing requirements for non-medical practitioners.
Currently, there is no sufficient requirement for non-medical practitioners
to prove that they are properly qualified when they apply for a licence.
The Enquete Commission recommends that only a single new provision should be added to the legal provisions on the relationship between parents and children currently in effect: In the framework of the provisions regarding personal custody, as laid down in the German Civil Code, the German Bundestag should add a provision which - in line with the wording of Section 1631(2) of the German Civil Code (legal restrictions imposed on educational measures in the framework of provisions governing personal custody) - should prohibit not only humiliating practices and methods in connection with religious activities but also practices and methods which have considerable adverse effects on the child's health or psychological well-being.
Aside from this, there is no need to adopt a newly codified act because, pursuant to Artides 123 (1) and 125 (1) of the German Constitution, the Act on Religious Education of Children continues to be in effect as federal law. In conceptual, substantive and systematic terms, the Act on Religious Education of Chudren is in principle connected with personal custody law as laid down in Sections 1626ft. of the German Civil Code.
As a result, the only action required is to remedy the shortcomings
with regard to the application of the Act on Religious Education of Chudren.
To this end, the Enquete Commission feels that it would be sufficient if
relevant specialist publishers of legal texts gave the Act on Religious
Education of Chudren a more conspicuous position in commonly used compilations
b. Harmonisation at European level of legal provisions regarding the relationship between parents and children
The Enquete Commission recommends that the 14th German Bundestag should
authorise the German Federal Govemment to initiate the development of directives
at European level designed to harmonise legal provisions regarding the
relationship between parents and chudren, in particular the approximation
of custody rules at European level.
a. The Enquete Commission recommends that the 14th German Bundestag should amend Section 291 of the German Penal Code as follows in order to clarify the already identified cases of exploitation of the special situation of affected individuals in new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups:
"Anyone who exploits someone else's economic, psychological or other predicament, or lack of judgement, or substantial weakness of will, by ..."
This will not extend the scope of the criminal offence defined in Section 291 of the German Penal Code.
b. In connection with activities of new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups, there may be usurious transactions during which the psychological state of affected individuals is exploited, resulting in material damage. The attention of prosecuting authorities should be drawn to the fact that they do not have to wait for such offences to be reported by persons who have suffered damage in order to institute investigations. lnstead, prosecuting authorities are obliged to investigate ex officio if other sources such as press reports or information provided by counselling centres have already supplied reasonable evidence of criminal offences defined in Section 291 of the German Penal Code.
c. By means of systematic education and information activities, the
prosecuting authorities should be beffer informed about the situation of
individuals in new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups
so that they are able to make proper assessments in a given case (especially
with regard to psychological interconnections).
The Enquete Commission welcomes the fact that, after 20 years of deliberations, it has been possible to pass the Act on Psychotherapists, both in the German Bundestag and in the Bundesrat (i.e. the second chamber of the German parliament). The Enquete Commission calls upon the legislator to ensure that the intentions of the legislator will not be thwarted by means of implementing regulations adopted by licensing authorities and commiffees.
In addition, it is necessary to ensure the availability of sufficient psychotherapeutic care, based on scientifically recognised methods, in particular for the treatment of psychomarket victims, individuals who suffered damage from esoterics, or who have left new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups. Furthermore, it should be ensured that there is a variety of methods using psychotherapeutic approaches which have stood up to scrutiny in theory and practice.
In its Interim Report, the Enquete Commission already pointed out that
it welcomed the observation of the Scientology Organisation by Germany's
Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and by the relevant
state-level offices. This observation should be continued.
The Enquete Commission calls upon the German Federal Govemment to work towards an intensification of the international exchange of information at govemmental and ministerial level with regard to problems associated with new rehgious and ideological communities and psychogroups. At European level, it is also recommendable to examine whether - in co-operation with the bodies of the European Union - major activities such as the evaluation of cross-border activities or govemmental information work can be better co-ordinated by establishing a European information centre. As far as criminal activities are concerned, information should be exchanged via Europol.
The Enquete Commission calls upon the 14th German Bundestag to discuss
the problems associated with new religious and ideological communities
and psychogroups in the framework of its working contacts with parliamentary
bodies of other countries and international organisations in order to achieve
a beffer exchange of information and views at this level as weIl.
The Enquete Commission calls upon the German Federal Govemment to work
towards the adoption of a common approach in the European Union towards
the phenomenon of new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups.
Ihe Enquete Commission feels that the laws currently in force are sufficient to deal with problems in connection with occultism and Satanism (e.g. bodily injury, duress, protection of children and young persons); for this reason, the Enquete Commission believes that there is no need for action in the field of legislation. However, the laws in effect should be applied more consistently.
In addition, the Enquete Gommission makes the following recommendations with regard to the non-commercial sector of occultism:
Furthermore, the Enquete Commission makes the following recommendations:
The Enquete Gommission recommends that the measures specified in Chapter
4.3 should be implemented in the field of education and continuing education.
The Enquete Commission recommends that the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemehschaft - DFG) should initiate an interdisciplinary research association to deal with the following issues:
The Enquete Commission recommends that Germany's state-level governments should bring their influence to bear on universities and other higher education institutions to ensure that the latter will pay greater attention to research into "new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups", so that they create research capacity for these issues by advertising vacancies in the departments concerned and appomting the staif needed.
Applied research (i.e. the translation of findings from basic research into practice) - like basic research - has not benefited from any systematic promotion in the past. The Fachhochschulen (specialised colleges of higher education) should also be addressed in this context. Particular attention should be paid to the following fields of applied research:
The Enquete Commission feels that the services available in the psychomarket
should be objectively described and assessed to create transparency for
the consumer. The Enquete Commission calls on the professional associations
of health care professionals and on consumer protection centres, etc. to
perform such assessments. They should be supported by govemment in such
Since it is in the interest of govemment and society that conflicts
between new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups on the
one hand and their social environment on the other should be limited and
that such conflicts should be handled in accordance with the law currenly
in force, the Enquete Commission recommends that one of the responsibilities
of the foundation suggested in Chapter 22.214.171.124 above should be mediating
between the parties to a conflict.
Since the term "sect" is undear and misleading, as described in Chapter 2, the Enquete Commission feels that it would be desirable to stop using the term "sect" in the context of the public debate about new religious and ideological communities and psychogroups. In future, the term "sect" should be avoided in particular in publications of public bodies, be they information brochures, court judgements, or laws.
lnstead, the Commission proposes that a more differentiated terminology
should be used - similar to the terms used in this Report - even if such
termino-logy can only be of a preliminary nature in view of the need for
further scientific research in this problem area.
The Enquete Commission recommends that the 14th German Bundestag should adopt a decision obliging the German Federal Govemment to submit two progress reports regarding the implementation of the recommendations for action put forward in this Final Report, the first one 2 years and the second one 4 years after the adoption of this Final Report.
334) Cf. minority opinion of the working group of the SPD's parliamentary group in the Enquete Gommission on "So-called Sects and Psychogroups" p. 301.
335) cf Hesse, K.: Bedeutung der Grundrechte, in: Benda, E./ Maihofer, W.Nogel, H-J. (ed.), Handbuch des Verfassungsrechts der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 2nd edition, Berlin and elsewhere., 1994, Section 5, para. 50.
336) A list of specific research issues in this context can be found in the commission's Interim Report, Bundestag Doc. 13/8170, p. 27.