The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and legal action..

by DT 1 Replies latest jw friends

  • DT

    This international treaty is fascinating, if you are concerned about abuses of power by the Watchtower Society.

    I would like to comment on a section of article 18, although many of the other articles are also relevant.

    "No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice."

    If a JW admits that he disagrees with an official governing body teaching, the elders try to readjust his thinking. If this fails, the "apostate" can be disfellowshipped and shunned. In other words they threaten someone with alienation if they are unwilling to change their belief. His freedom to adopt a belief is impaired.

    Also if a member decides to exercise his right to leave the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses and adopt a different religion or set of beliefs, then he is subjected to the same punishment. Given the severity of losing contact with family and friends, many people are impaired from exercising their freedom of religion.

    I believe that the WTS shows contempt for the basic civil rights of it's members. The question is whether we can use this treaty to combat the Watchtower Society's disregard for civil rights. The situation is a bit complicated in the United States, but I hope that there may be a country that has signed this agreement and has a legal climate that would be favorable to challenging the WTS policies and punishing them for the damage they have done.

    If this happens in even one country, it could put a tremendous amount of pressure on the governing body to change their policies to minimise financial losses. They might decide to change the policies everywhere. It would be very difficult to explain the changing of these policies in only some countries and could make it easier to show that these policies are used for secular rather than religious reasons, which could make it easier to sue them elsewhere.

    The United States has adopted this treaty, but with reservations. It is not self executing in the U.S. It can't be used, by itself, as a cause for action in U.S. courts. However, it appears that the courts can use it for guidance. Here is a good article that talks about the treaty's implications for U.S. law.

    I barely skimmed the surface of this topic. I hope you will share your thoughts and observations.

  • DT

    I thought I would mention some more interesting quotes:

    From Article 2,

    "3. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes: (a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy"

    The U.S. courts have refused to even hear some cases where individuals claim the WTS has infringed on their rights.

    From Article 7,

    "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

    I would think that secret trials, slander, extreme shunning and the breakup of families could fall into this category.

    Article 17,

    " 1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. 2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

    I would think that forced shunning is an arbitrary interference with one's family. I may be back with some more later.

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