A support group in Finland is concerned about the shunning practices of Jehovah's Witnesses
A support group in Finland is concerned about the shunning practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses

A Finnish non-governmental organization (NGO) has issued a report to the country’s Ministry of Justice calling for an investigation into the judicial practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses – specifically the practice of shunning as a punishment meted out by judicial committees.

According to its official website, one of the stated aims of the UUT (the Support group for the Victims of Religions) is to ensure that “religious communities would obey the law and respect human rights acts declared by the United Nations.”

They also insist that members of religions “should also have the right to leave the community without threats or fears of retaliation.”

On Saturday the group released a report criticizing the internal tribunals used by Witnesses, and the way those deemed punishable by disfellowshipping are “harassed, bullied, publicly reviled and isolated from loved ones.”

Justice Minister Anna-Maija Henriksson will be looking into the report
Justice Minister Anna-Maija Henriksson will be looking into the report

The report cites firsthand accounts from 18 former members as evidence of the harsh penalties that can be imposed. Shunning is identified as a practice that is “exceptionally cruel and a violation of human rights,” which can lead to severe health problems and even attempted suicide.

When asked about her immediate reaction to the report, Justice Minister Anna-Maija Henriksson expressed her concern about the idea of two judicial systems operating side-by-side in Finland.

“Of course it cannot be in Finland that we have another system outside the regular judiciary,” she said.

“It’s extremely important, also in religious communities to respect fundamental individual rights and freedoms. And that also includes thinking about our own behavior and practices from the perspective of respecting others.”

Henriksson admitted to reporters at “yle” that courts are the final authority on whether or not the organs of a religious group are operating legally or illegally, but she indicated that she would be looking into the UUT report in greater detail and may discuss the matter with the minister responsible for church matters.

Finland currently has around 18,700 Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Finnish Branch also manages organizational affairs for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – all countries whose own branches have recently been closed down.

Here at JWsurvey we applaud the UUT for its bravery in addressing this important issue, and we call upon similar organizations in other countries to follow its lead.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly stipulates that everyone should be free to leave his or her former beliefs if they so choose. The practice of shunning those who disassociate themselves from the organization as implemented by Watchtower in 1981, and the breaking up of families through coercion that this entails, is a flagrant and obscene violation of these basic inalienable rights.









Further reading…

116 thoughts on “Finnish NGO urges governmental investigation into Watchtower’s judicial policies

  • May 12, 2014 at 4:59 am

    John you are correct. Thanks for the correction. I am sorry for anyone I have offended I truly did not mean to offend anyone at all. That was really not a well thought out comment on my part especially the part about being dis-fellowshipped. Can you please delete the comment?

  • May 12, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Congratulations on your new family member hope mum and baby are well. If you were able to be at the birth I hope you experienced the unique miracle of birth as many do. Emotions running at fever pitch, wanting the world to stop and realise what has just happened. Then the realisation of your responsibility to protect and nourish this life in a world that can sometimes be hostile and totally unjust.My one hope is that your family especially mum and dad will remember the day you were born and realise that nothing should come between you especially another mans view of what God expects.Although I dont know you personally your fair mindedness has been one of the main reasons for keeping up to date with your site.I am sure you will be a major influence in bringing up your growing family into becoming well rounded out people who will as you do contribute to others feeling of wellbeing.Once again many congratulations to you both. PS Try to catch up on lost sleep especially your wife!!!

  • May 12, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Congratulations John and your wife on the birth of your baby!!

    • May 12, 2014 at 6:10 am

      Thanks kat and freethinker, sorry you had to hear the good news by means of an outburst! I’ll be writing about it shortly…

  • May 12, 2014 at 6:26 am

    John, I am so happy for you! I pray the new Mom and wee Baby are doing well. Give the baby a special kiss from his Aunt Beverly from South Carolina in the USA!!

  • May 12, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Congrats! :-) Now you will have more time to devote to this site…with all of the sleepiness nights….LOL!

  • May 12, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Defender, I just wanted you to know I have been through terrible loneliness when I was cut off from my earthly family.

    Not any more!!! I am happier now than I have ever been in my whole life because I am free to serve Jesus under his light yoke of love. All I have to do is believe in Jesus to get salvation. That love moves my heart to do good things.

    I am not alone anymore, I have many many brothers and sisters thanks to Cedar’s site, and many like his.

    The ones I really feel sorry are ones like you and all the others still being blinded by the works of men. I hope one day your eyes will be opened to the truth about the truth.

    Until then, I wish you love and peace.

  • May 12, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Hi Cedars,

    Congratulations for the newborn babe in your family. It’s a nice and magical time, isn’t it ? Take care of your wife, as the days after a birth are not the easiest one for a woman who must ensure full recovery after pregnancy.

    All the best.

  • May 12, 2014 at 6:58 am

    I agree with you, the “New Light” argument is a catch all for “Oops! We {the GB} screwed up again, but we’re allowed to and not you!” Not to get too theological here; if you look at the entire scripture that they hang on to for their cover story, the scripture talks of a person who is wise from life experiences and information. They only want to use a portion of that scripture to justify their bait and switch tactics. Seems to me that the path is very bright for those here that see a false prophet and distructive cult.

  • May 12, 2014 at 8:21 am

    @Defender of True Faith,

    Was King David, ancestor of Jesus, an APOSTATE or a SINNER. Was he happy? Look how Jehovah’s witnesses describe his happiness in plain words:

    (2 Samuel 11:1–20:26)
    “Here I am raising up against you calamity out of your own house,” Jehovah says to David, “and I will take your wives under your own eyes and give them to your fellowman, and he will certainly lie down with your wives under the eyes of this sun.” (2 Samuel 12:11) What is the reason for this pronouncement? It is David’s sin with Bath-sheba. Though repentant David is forgiven, he is not spared the consequences of his sin.
    First the child that Bath-sheba gives birth to dies. Then David’s virgin daughter Tamar is raped by her half brother Amnon. Her full brother Absalom murders Amnon in revenge. Absalom conspires against his own father and proclaims himself king in Hebron. David is forced to flee Jerusalem. Absalom has relations with ten of his father’s concubines left behind to take care of the house. David returns to his kingship only after Absalom is killed. A revolt by the Benjaminite Sheba ends in Sheba’s death. (http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/l/r1/lp-e?q=w05+5%2F15+pp.+16-19)

    I long for the day you will realize how foolish this Jehovah is.

  • May 12, 2014 at 9:03 am

    John–congrats on the birth of your newborn, very happy for you! :)
    Holy Connoli–very well said and SO, SO true. That’s one of the MAJOR differences between the WT and those whom they have labeled as “Apostate”: The difference is that the WT will tell people things that they want them to hear v.s. “Apostates” who tell you what you NEED to hear; and the sad part is that they are labeled “Apostate” for doing nothing more than speaking mere truth.

  • May 12, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Defender of Faith: If you’re a faithful JW, what are you doing here? Isn’t that in DIRECT violation of everything you have been taught? It’s obvious to see whose really lonely.

  • May 12, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Congratulations, Cedars.
    Wow! I was wondering about this just the other day.
    Where do we send the presents?

  • May 12, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Huh, I just clicked on that link for JW.ORG , on the topic of whether they shun former members or not. It says they don’t shun, and in fact ‘reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest’.
    What a bunch of lies! I have faded out (almost ten years now), one couple came to see me once to ask why I had not been attending meetings, but never has any of the elders from my old congregation called me up or called in to my house to ‘reach out’ to me.
    I have, however, been shunned, had people who were my best friends, look the other way, look confused when I’ve said hello, like they don’t recognise me. And I am by no means ‘bad’.
    Reading that nonsense has really annoyed me. I feel like printing off copies of that crap and putting it in the letter boxes of JW’s whose addresses I know.

  • May 12, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    My girlfriend was born in Africa, and her family still lives there. Most people there have not awakened. It seems like they feel the need to be submissive to authority and not question things. Hopefully you can continue to open the eyes of your brothers there.

  • May 12, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    “Only just realising”, my girlfriend is from a southern Africa . WE broke up when I told her that I didn’t believe in the governing body. She said some of the most hateful things ever. We never ave had hateful arguments about anything else. fortunately i knew this was the cult speaking. I forgave her even though we were apart and she told me to never talk to her again or she would charge we with harassment. I knew she wouldn’t. so i sent her messages every so often telling her i loved her. Eventually she responded and finally called me. She apologized and we reconciled.

  • May 13, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Hey Joe Blow: That’s a PERFECT example of what I’m talking about–the WT will tell the general public all the worst possible things you could say to them: Telling them things they want the public to hear v.s. what we all know to be a bundle of flat out lies.

  • June 3, 2014 at 1:56 am

    hi jojo,

    i am also from kenya. i left almost a year ago. faded to be precise therefore not officially.

  • June 3, 2014 at 2:03 am


    I read your story. I must say it took courage to be able to go through what you did. I also woke up after realizing i couldn’t raise my son in this cult. I left last year but went through a serious depression almost self destructing. however Jwrecovery helped me to realize i was not alone. In kenya we have no meet ups. No one is brave enough to speak out. I know there are those who have left because they also don’t beleive anymore but no one will dare come out and say so openly. I am really inspired by what you have all done. Fearlessly speaking the truth against the WBTS. I stumbled on my first “apostate ” site after i could no longer go for the meetings and the rest is history. I still have bad days but i’m getting there. Thanks

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