By Tara Rippin • 18 March 2021 • 10:58
CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons
Court fines Jehovah’s Witnesses €12,000 for incitement to hatred against ex-members.
A CORRECTIONAL court in Belgium has ruled that the non-profit association behind Jehovah’s Witnesses is guilty of inciting discrimination and hatred or violence against former members, reports the Belga news agency.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses must pay a €12,000 fine for the systematic and “disturbing” exclusion of ex-members who have left the organisation
During the trial one of the lawyers of the civil parties said the organisation’s shunning policy “cuts to the very core of relationships”, and the victims “suffer both physical and psychological consequences”.
The complaint was filed with the Ghent public prosecutor’s office by a former member who cited slander and defamation, insults and violation of the discrimination law.
He said that once the members had left the group, they were disowned and completely isolated socially, by order of the organisation.
The Ghent public prosecutor’s office summoned the Jehovah’s Witnesses on four charges: incitement to discrimination on the basis of religious belief against a person, and against a group, as well as incitement to hatred or violence against a person, and against a group.
Pieter-Bram Lagae, a lawyer who assists the ex-witness who started the case, said that Jehovah’s Witnesses state that ex-members should be “shunned like the plague”.
Former Jehovah’s Witnesses member Patrick Haeck told Het Nieuwsblad newspaper that “this is just the start” and that the victims are going to take the matter to the European Court.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
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