Jehovah’s Witnesses given €12,000 fine for incitement to hatred against ex-members
Share article:
Share article:

Jehovah’s Witnesses given €12,000 fine for incitement to hatred against ex-members

A former Jehovah's Witness went to the public prosecutor's office in Ghent in 2015. Credit: Belga

The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Belgium must pay a €12,000 fine for the systematic and “disturbing” exclusion of ex-members who have left the organisation, the Ghent correctional court ruled on Tuesday.

The court 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’ shunning policy cuts to the very core of relationships, and the victims suffer both physical and psychological consequences,” one of the lawyers of the civil parties said during the trial last month.

In 2015, an ex-member took the organisation to the Ghent public prosecutor’s office for slander and defamation, insults and violation of the discrimination law.

He claimed 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 for 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.

Belgium’s Interfederal Equal Opportunities Centre Unia and some fifteen individuals had taken up civil action, with the victims’ lawyers emphasising the far-reaching consequences of the “shunning policy,” reports De Morgen.

“Jehovah’s Witnesses state that ex-members should be shunned like the plague,” said lawyer Pieter-Bram Lagae, who assists the ex-witness who started the case.

“He used to sit on the Jehovah’s Judicial Committee and help decide on exclusions, until he realised it was going too far,” Lagae said. “We act, for example, for a man whose wife is still a member, and he is ignored in his own home. Or a woman who has never seen her father since the exclusion.”

“This is just the start,” former Jehovah’s Witnesses member Patrick Haeck told Het Nieuwsblad. “We are going to the European Court. This has to stop everywhere.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

Latest news

European Council: Decisions on Covid-19 and energy and debate on other issues
At the two-days summit which ended on Friday, the European Council adopted conclusions on COVID-19, digital, energy prices, migration, trade and ...
Flanders ‘water bomb’ could cause €2 billion in damages and affect thousands
The next "water bomb" or heavy rainfall over Flanders could cause damages estimated at around €2 billion, and could affect up to 100,000 people in ...
Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine 90% effective in 5 to 11-year-olds
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 90.7% effective in preventing symptomatic forms of the coronavirus in children aged five to 11, Pfizer announced on ...
Belgian airport named best for cargo in Europe
Brussels Airport has been named the best airport in Europe in a 2021 roundup of the best cargo airports across the world. The Asian Freight, ...
NASA plans first return mission to Moon in February 2022
The United States space agency, NASA, has announced that it will be aiming to launch its first, uncrewed mission to the moon, Artemis 1, in February ...
New, reportedly more contagious Delta mutation being monitored
A new mutation of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is reported to be more contagious, is being monitored by health authorities in the ...
Angèle releases new single: ‘Bruxelles je t’aime’
Belgian singer Angèle has unveiled her latest song ahead of the release of her new album, due later this year. 'Bruxelles je t'aime' (Brussels I ...
23 million chickens and 1.7 million pigs: Climate experts call for livestock cut
Flander's livestock needs to be drastically cut to save the climate and reach the emission reduction targets, according to the latest advice from the ...
Vaccination uptake surges in Wallonia following CST announcement
The number of people getting vaccinated against the coronavirus increased fourfold in Wallonia after it was announced that the Covid Safe Ticket ...
Guilty by association
BRUSSELS BEHIND THE SCENES Weekly analysis and untold stories With SAM MORGAN Other Brussels behind the scenes stories: Brussels' bid to make ...
Health minister supports use of Covid Safe Ticket in workplace
As the use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) has been expanded in Brussels and is set to in Wallonia, federal health minister Frank Vandenbroucke has ...
Maggots show Conings may have lived longer following disappearance
Former army soldier Jürgen Conings, whose disappearance in mid-May resulted in a month-long manhunt, may have been alive for longer than has been ...