The Finish Minister of justice Anna-Maija Henriksson has for the first time today expressed concerns about the way Jehovah’s Witnesses operate their own judicial committees and the way they penalize their own members in many ways in violation to the Finish Judicial System .She reportedly said that “There is NO ROOM for two judicial systems in Finland.” The Ministry of Justice became aware of the Jehovah’s Witnesses practises by another local organization by the name UUT, which main objective is to support victims of religion in Finland.
The UUT which for some time has been in touch with the Finish Government in relation to the disciplinary practices of the Watchtower ,has also called on Justice Minister Anna-Maija Henriksson to run a more thorough investigation on the practices of the hierarchy of the movement that seem to contradict its charitable status in Finland.
The story started when UUT was approached by a group of 18 former Jehovah’s Witnesses that had been the recipient of harsh punishments by the internal judicial committees system of the Watchtower .The UUT was surprised to discover the extent of ostracism and humiliation that offending church members are going through when they break any of the many laws and regulations of the Watchtower .
The Finish Minister didn’t commit to a direct comment on the judicial committee practises of the church, but did say that Finland already has a well established judicial system.The following is her poignant comment :
Anna-Maija Henriksson is also one of the first European Ministers that realizes that the penalties the Watchtower inflicts upon it’s members are not within the acceptable range of fundamental rights and freedoms that Finish citizens enjoy and expressed her surprise that a charitable organization such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses can engage in this behavior that has for so long being hiddden from the general public.
The minister proceeded to advise all ex communicated Jehovah’s Witnesses to file a complaint with their local police if they believe that they their rights have been violated in accordance to . She commented that the Finish Courts are responsible in deciding whether or not the organs of a religious group are operating legally or illegally.
Henriksson said that Justice Ministry officials will look into the UUT report in greater detail next week.
The matter also falls to the Ministry of Education and Culture, which is responsible for freedom of religion legislation and matters relating to religious groups. Henriksson said she also plans to discuss the matter with the minister responsible for church matters, Päivi Räsänen.