The following information is an important Swiss Press Release of July 8, 2020, translated into English. (Page one contains the basics of the ruling and also provided is a link to the other eight pages.)
Table of Contents
Switzerland: A GROUNDBREAKING RULING
SEVERE CRITICISM OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES IS JUSTIFIED.
• The religious practice of Jehovah’s Witnesses violates the basic
rights of their members
• Children too are affected by ostracism
• The two-witness rule facilitates sexual violence against children
In July 2019, the District Court of Zurich acquitted a cult expert and former infoSekta employee on all charges of libel brought by the Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses Switzerland. These charges came following an interview in the Tages-Anzeiger (2015) and a media release (2015). From March 2020 on, it became apparent that the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Switzerland were not going to file an appeal.“
The court ruling devastating for the Jehovah’s Witnesses is therefore final.
To the best of our knowledge, this verdict unprecedented, both in Switzerland and internationally. Based on extensive evidence, the court examined the cult expert’s statements regarding key points of criticism of the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, and it concluded that the criticism was justified: The religious practices of the Jehovah’s Witnesses violate the fundamental rights of their members and their loved ones.
This verdict is also crucial concerning a clarification of the doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is a doctrine that is binding for all of their members worldwide. It also entails questions about the statutory body recognition (Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts) of the denomination in Germany.
WHAT THE TRIAL WAS ABOUT
Dr. Phil. Regina Spiess, an expert on cults, was accused of defamation, the crime of attacking and/or damaging the honour of a person or an organization (article 173 of the penal code). Because true defamatory statements are usually exempt from punishment, the aim of the court trial was to demonstrate that the statements made by her were true. For all relevant points, the expert succeeded in proving that the statements were in fact true (Proof of Truth) or that they could be considered true in good faith (Proof of Good Faith). During the trial, it could also be proven that all of her statements were made in respect of the public interest.
For the trial, twenty-four witnesses had been named; however, the court decided not to call on them because the proof of exoneration had already been provided through extensive written evidence.
The court acquitted the sect expert of all charges, and she was awarded a trial compensation of CHF 20,500 for legal fees and an additional personal harm allowance of CHF 4,000 from the court treasury, a considerable amount by Swiss standards.
Initially, the Jehovah’s Witnesses Switzerland announced an appeal. After the written verdict was issued in January 2020, however, they allowed the deadline for filing and substantiating an appeal to expire, with the consequence that the court ruling is now binding.
HERE’S A LINK TO READ PAGES 2-9 OF THE SWISS PRESS RELEASE:
HERE’S A LINK TO READ THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENT OF THE ZURICH COURT’S DECISION:
HERE’S A LINK TO THE JULY 21, 2019 ARTICLE, “How to rescue a loved one from a sect,” DISCUSSING THE WORK OF SWI – SWISS INFO, an anti-cult organization, and the SWISS RULING regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses: