Partial prohibition on public Scientology recruitment in Lausanne
Federal Court rejects continued activity pending outcome of appeal
October 12, 2001
Lausanne (APA/sda) - the Scientology cult may deliver its papers to the public on the streets of Lausanne only to a limited degree. On Friday, the Swiss Federal Court rejected the request to continue activity pending the outcome of an appeal.
In 1998, Lausanne permitted the cult to distribute its papers on public land only on one day a week. In addition to that, Scientology may set up a stand on St. Francois Square only twice a month.
The Waadtland Administrative Court validated these measures last June, whereupon Scientology demanded a hearing in federal court. On October 10 its application to continue its activity pending appeal was rejected by the Second Public Law Division.
Scientology prohibited from advertising on Lausanne's streets
Court backs city council's decision
July 13, 2001
Lausanne, July 11 (sda) By prohibiting Scientology from distributing printed matter on public land, the City of Lausanne did not act unjustly. This was determined by the Waadtland Administrative Court in a decision published on Wednesday. In 1998, the city permitted distribution of material by the sect from city property only one day a week. In addition, Scientology is also allowed to set up a stand twice a month on St-François Place.
Scientology complained to the magistrate against this decision by Police Director Bernard Métraux. But the Waadtland Administrative Court found that the measures taken were based on objective criteria. They were found to be proportional to the situation and did not contradict the mandate for equal treatment. The Scientologists would not accept the court's decision, according to statements from a spokeswoman. She said they would file an appeal with the Federal Court, and as a last resort in the European Court for Human Rights.
Federal Court snubs Scientology
July 1, 1999
Neue Zuercher Zeitung Politik
The highest Swiss court turned down Scientology's objection to the Basel ban on deceptive street advertisement.
Lausanne. - The controversial Basel criminal code prohibits certain methods of advertisement on public land. "One who advertises or tries to advertise to pedestrians on public land by using deceptive or unfair methods" will be punished. The wording of the law uses "Allmend," which in Basel is a synonym for public land.
The Federal Court has now decided that this regulation does not disregard religious freedom. Even if a correct application of the standard would be difficult, the ordinance which was passed in 1998 conforms with the Constitution, unanimously decided the seven federal judges after two and a half hours of deliberation. The department president mentioned that a legal, political assessment of the criminal standard was not the mission of the Federal Court. At issue was only whether the determination had violated Basic Law. The court determined that this was not the case, but gave the Basel officials guidelines for the practical application of the standard.
From the discussion it was not absolutely clear whether Scientology's activities would come under religious freedom. In any case, the criminal code was in the public interest although Scientology methods are recognized to be disputable and could even have legal consequences.
Delicate interpretation of the law
The Basel criminal justice system must make sure that it keeps this kind of ordinance in proportion to the situation. A conviction under this law would be permissible if deceptive methods, abuse of trust, or the exploitation of the mentally ill or inexperienced were used. A conviction under this law would be out of proportion to the situation if the target of the advertisement were listening because he wanted to. The citizens would have to accept a certain degree of religious propaganda.
The controversial determination also expands the alternatives for the Basel police. In certain cases they may instruct the advertisers to leave public ground. The Federal Court made it clear that the police may not step in because of a mere danger of prohibited methods; there has to be real evidence. One judge wanted to delete certain passages of this finding. The court majority, however, were of the opinion that an application of the law by the police was not likely to be outside the Constitution. One may conclude from that that the ordinance will be applied using common sense. The question is how practical it will be.
Not a prohibited individual case law
The criminal code goes back to a motion approved by the Basel Council in 1996 that addressed the aggressive and suggestive methods used in Scientology advertising. Because of that, Scientology asserted that it was an illicit individual case law which disregarded legal equality. The court unanimously rejected that assertion. Scientology had indeed been the reason for the ordinance, but the deciding factor was the wording itself, which did not refer to the individual case of Scientology. The Basel Parliament also made it clear from the beginning that this would not be a "Scientology Law."
Scientology announced that it had listened "with satisfaction" to the restrictive interpretation of the criminal code by the Federal Court. It was said that meant that "nothing would change in practice in Basel." One would be confident of finding "a mutual solution, as always, with the Basel officials."
Measures against Scientology advertising operations on public land have also been taken in Lausanne, Wil, Buchs and other communities.
From the Federal Court
Ban against unfair advertising is permitted
Basel regulation unsuccessfully challenged by Scientology
July 1, 1999
Neue Zuercher Zeitung
The new Basel canton ordinance which was directed against Scientology activity whereby it was forbidden to unfairly advertise to pedestrians on public land held up in the Federal Constitutional Court. This was decided on Wednesday after public consultation by the judgment of the Federal court which struck down the legal objection which had been filed by one of the affected organizations.
fel. Lausanne, June 30
On the basis of a parliamentary proposal which expressly addressed the advertising practices of Scientology, the Great Council of Basel City Council on September 16, 1998, added a new paragraph 23a to the canton criminal law [Uebertretungsstrafrecht]. According to the law it is forbidden on public land (called "Allmend" in Basel) to advertise to pedestrians by deceptive or unfair methods. When there is evidence of that or if pedestrians are being annoyed in an illicit manner, the police can direct the advertisers to leave in general or to leave a specific area. The constitutionality of this regulation was contested in federal court as a result of the Scientology Church Basel and its members, but their legal objection has now been clearly struck down by a vote of six to one.
As was brought up in the course of the public session of several judges of the I. Public Legal Department, it was to remain open in the legal basis of judgment whether Scientology was a religious congregation which can invoke freedoms of belief and conscience. Even if this Basic Right had managed to get applied, it would still not have been a violation according to the majority view of the deciding chamber of the Federal Court. The controversial regulation is contained in an official law and has sufficient legal basis. The Federal Court also affirmed that the ban on unfair advertising was in the public interest, since the interest is not directed at an essential element of freedom of belief. There was some discussion on the issue of the relative proportionality of the new regulation, but that was finally affirmed by the greater majority. A constitutional application of the law would not be simple by any means but would have to be applied by a legally trained court, was the opinion of the speaker. And the police were to be trusted to proceed according to visible evidence and exercise restraint in dispersing advertisers until the concepts of deceptive and unfair have been tested in court.
All the rest of the objections which Scientology had raised against the new regulation were dismissed without extensive discussion. One of the objections that were dismissed, for instance, was that the ban against unfair advertisement would violate superior federal law (art. 2 superior decision of the federal court) because the laws about unfair competition exclusively regulated this area and therefore there was no room for input from the canton. An argument which had just as little success was that a discriminatory and therefore a violation of legal equality (art. 4 federal court) individual case law was at issue. The Basel City Canton would be held to its promise that the new law would not just be used against Scientology, but against any organization with tried to advertise to pedestrians in a comparable manner.
Judgment 1P.571/1998 of 30 June 99 - written basis still outstanding.
*Yellow cards for the Basel Scientologists
[*This is a reference to the warning cards given to soccer players before they get removed from the game.]
July 1, 1999
Federal Court upholds regulation against aggressive advertising by sects
The Basel City regulation against the aggressive advertising by sects was upheld by the Constitution. Yesterday the Federal Court rejected a legal complaint by the Scientology Church Basel by a vote of 6 to 1.
The judgment from Lausanne also makes it clear, though, that the Scientology Church may continue to proselytize on public ground as long as pedestrians are not annoyed in an unacceptable fashion. The often importunate methods of the Scientology Church street missionaries are a sore point in many locations not only for the pedestrians, but also for the business people in the city centers and along the pedestrian zones. Therefore it is not surprising that action has been taken against the street missionaries in various cities in Switzerland. The city of Basel has blazed a new trail in this respect. Last September the Great Council made a new provision in the canton code of violations on the proposal of the Basel city government.
According to this decision, a fine of up to 10,000 franks, and, in repeat cases, even imprisonment of up to three months can result if one "advertises or tries to advertise using deceptive or unfair methods to pedestrians on public land." In addition police are empowered by this statute "to direct advertisers away in general or from individual locations if evidence exists that illicit, especially deceptive or unfair, methods are being applied in advertising or pedestrians are being annoyed in an unacceptable manner."
Yesterday the Federal Court dismissed a legal objection against this statute filed by the Scientology Church Basel by a vote of 6 to 1. The Scientologists argued in Lausanne that the statute was impermissible, that it was directed only against the Scientologists as an individual case law and violated a series of freedoms, especially freedom of religion. Besides this they said the city of Basel was not authorized to enact this law because the advertising practiced by the Scientology and the sale of books and courses was a commercial activity and therefore was an exception to the federal law which covered unfair competition.
Insofar as the court dealt with these reprimands, it completely rejected them all. The legal decision had been enacted in accordance with the Constitution in the opinion of a majority of 6 judges. One federal judge wanted to state the decision was partially invalid; for him the chances of preventive intervention by the police - in particular as regards the power of general dispersing - went too far.
Contrary to the Scientologists' opinion, the officials did not interfere in an impermissible method with their religious freedom. "One who advertises in a proper manner may do so without being approved by the police," opined one judge, thereby laying the groundwork for permissible proselytizing by Scientologists. Or as another judge thought, "Not all religious propaganda is impermissible;; everybody has to take a certain amount of religious handling as part of the deal." However the Federal Court made it clear that the borderline between permissible proselytizing and deceptive and unfair sect advertisement would not always be simple [to detect].
Problems in practice
The question of the practicality of the statute was also raised in Lausanne. However one trusts that the Basel City police (without wanting to get too close to them) are able to judge whether pedestrians are being annoyed in an unacceptable way. Whether the keepers of the law are in the position to make it clear to a proselytizing Scientologist that there is evidence of deceptive or otherwise unfair methods and then to order him to be on his way is doubted in Lausanne. Even the "general" dispersing order mentioned in the law brought head shakes from one judge: does this mean an instruction to leave a place, a time or does it just refer to content? Do the police on Barfuesser Place say "go away" or "go away forever" or even "keep off of public ground"? The controversial Basel statute may be a tough nut to crack when it comes to applying it.
In one first impression the Scientology Church reacted with satisfaction to the decision, primarily to the basis by the federal court. In principal, they said, the court had confirmed fundamental objections by the church that the law was very difficult to interpret and that care must be taken with fundamental rights in its application, primarily with religious freedom. It was most important to the church that the court allegedly confirmed that addressing pedestrians and proselytizing on public land were not affected by this regulation and were basically permitted.
Even before the judgment the Scientology Church had indicated that it was in full agreement that proselytizing may not be done either unfairly, deceptively or annoyingly; members had already been instructed in that respect a long time ago. Insofar as their practice in Basel, they said nothing would change and that they were very confident that a mutual solution would be found with the officials in Basel.
Scientology files charges against Lausanne Police director
Because of ban on harassment in the city
June 30, 2000
Lausanne - Scientology is defending itself against the ban by the City of Lausanne against harassing pedestrians downtown. The organization has filed charges against city councilman Bernard Métraux.
"The Waadtland Scientologists have had enough of the discriminating politics of the city government of Lausanne," the organization said on Tuesday evening. Because of the measure which recently went into effect, they filed a charge with the court magistrate against city councilman Métraux. This could not be verified with the court.
Last June 16th, the Police Directorate, for public safety, prohibited members of Scientology from annoying pedestrians on public land. Violators could be brought to court on a case by case basis. What the city primarily had in mind were the concerts which the organization had been arranging without permits. In addition, members were targeting pedestrians on the much frequented steps of Riponne Square in Old Town.
Back in 1998, the City of Lausanne had already permitted the organization to hand out treatises only one day a week. Besides that Scientology may put up a booth at St. François Square only twice a month.
Peter Kleiber (Quelle: sda)
(sda) A St. Gallen Scientology member applied in vain for the ban on race discrimination in Federal Court. The three judges determined that he was not authorized to demand a sect critic be condemned. To do that, he would have had to have been in a situation to file for civil damages. The Scientologist was defending himself against a decision by the St. Gallen arraignment court. It found for the accused, Elsbeth Bates, who criticized individual Scientology members in religious instruction in May, 1995, and had distributed skull-and-crossbones decals warning against Scientology. The Cantonal Justice Office did not take up the complaint against Bates. The court determined that Scientology was not a religion, but simply a weltanschauung or philosophy. Therefore the criminal prohibition of race discrimination was not affected.
(See also 970513a.htm)
St. Gallen, Switzerland
May 13, 1997
(sda) A St. Gallen Scientology member did not accept the decision of a St. Gallen arraignment court that since Scientology was not a religion, he could not proceed with charges of racism against critics. The man filed a "cassation" complaint at the Federal Court.
The arraignment court decided the middle of February that Scientology was not a religion. That served as rebuff to a Scientologist who had filed charges against sect critic Elsbeth Bates, invoking the anti-racism law and its ban on defamation of religious groups.
Scientologist goes before Federal Court
Altstaetten/Lausanne. In 1995, Altstaetter Scientologist Donath Roth sued sect critic Elsbeth Bates, basing his charge on the Anti-racism article.
After the District Office would not take the complaint and the state attorney's office had refused recourse, the St. Gallen arraignment court handed down this decision, basing it on Scientology not being a religion according to Swiss law, and therefore it could not take action against critics with charges of racism. The Scientologist complainant then filed a cassation complaint in Federal Court. That can be seen from a communique from Scientology. It said that the St. Gallen arraignment court evaluated the anti-racism law completely falsely. It said that according to the court's assessment, Buddhism and other eastern religions would have no protection against discrimination. Scientology clings tightly to the classification of religious denomination. It said the St. Gallen arraignment court had simply ignored the judgments of 25 religious scientists and invented its own definition of religion. In Scientology's presentation of itself, "a respectful relationship between people and God" was missing, the arraignment court founded its decision. In place of the free religious activity of a religious community, it said that Scientology was characterized by "authoritarian leadership and control of the classified member." Cults which had "at the most, quasi-religious status," did not fall under the protection of the Anti-racism article, said the basis. fa/sda
[This may refer to a person who spells his name Donat Roth.
9See also 970625a.htm]]
Judgment against Lausanne Scientologist upheld
March 28, 2000
Lausanne. AP. On Monday, the Waadtland Cantonal Court upheld the first judgment against the President of the Lausanne Scientologists. The woman had been sentenced to ten days imprisonment suspended for libelous speech. She had assailed the founder of the Group for the Protection of Family and Individuals in April 1996 in a Scientology magazine, describing him as a "braggart," among other things. The canton court judges reproached the woman for having attacked the man on the personal level and not because of his ideas. The Groups for the Protection of Family and Individuals is a movement little known to the public, therefore the attack would not have been justified through public interest. The convicted intends to fight the decision before the Federal Court. In a press release signed by the Scientology Church of Lausanne, she described the decision as a direct attack on freedom of the press.
Prison for Scientologist
From: "Teletxt Schweiz:
December 4, 1998 20:43
The Criminal Court of Lausanne has sentenced a member of the Scientology association to six months prison suspended. The court found the man guilty of exploiting the dependency of a depressed person. Charges against two other people were dropped. The court accused the the sentenced man of having exploited the psychological instability and depression of a 38 year old PTT employee who had met up with the Scientologists. The man was wangled out of 20,000 franks for courses. Charges of fraud were dismissed against the Scientology member.