European court upholds German move to take kids from sect

Source: Associated Press

By DAVID RISING

BERLIN (AP) — The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday upheld Germany’s decision to take away the children of families in a Christian sect to protect them from being disciplined by caning, agreeing the punishment constituted child abuse and authorities were left with no choice.

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Bavarian authorities in 2013 raided the Twelve Tribes sect settlements near the towns of Deinigen and Woernitz and took 40 children, between ages 18 months and 17 years, into foster care after a hidden-camera media report showed the parents caning children as punishment.

The sect did not deny using the cane, saying on its website at the time that “when they are disobedient or intentionally hurtful to others we spank them with a small reed-like rod, which only inflicts pain and not damage.” It said they consider their children precious and wonderful and “because we love them we do spank them.”

In its ruling, the Strasbourg court found the sect had employed “a form of institutionalized violence against minors” and that even if social workers had stepped in, they “could not have effectively protected the children, as corporally disciplining the children had been based on their unshakeable dogma.”

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