Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

ARGENTINA: PROTEX dangerous ideology. How to fabricate “prostitution victims”

Photo: The prosecutors in charge of PROTEX, María Alejandra Mángano and Marcelo Colombo. From Facebook.

ARGENTINA: PROTEX dangerous ideology. How to fabricate “victims of prostitution”

A book by an Argentinian prosecutor criticizes the theory that “all” sex workers are coerced to prostitution. PROTEX goes one step further, seeing prostitutes where there are none.

by Willy Fautré

Bitter Winter (28.09.20230) – In its frantic quest for victims of sexual exploitation, PROTEX, an Argentinian state agency fighting trafficking in human beings and criminal gangs exploiting prostitutes, has also fabricated imaginary prostitutes and hereby made real victims by alerting the media when it carried out a spectacular armed SWAT crackdown in August 2022 on the Buenos Aires Yoga School (BAYS), a philosophical belief group allegedly running a prostitution ring, and on some fifty other places in Buenos Aires.

All in all, arrest warrants were issued against 19 persons, 10 men and 9 women, allegedly running a criminal ring. They were all imprisoned and submitted to a very harsh jail regime for pre-detention periods ranging from 18 to 84 days. In two cases, the Court of Appeals revoked the indictment for being unfounded. The others are free and are waiting for the next round.

Fabricated prostitutes

Five women older than fifty, three in their forties and one in her mid-thirties are on the one hand suing two prosecutors of PROTEX on unfounded claims of their being victims of sexual exploitation in the framework of a yoga school. On the other hand, they are real victims of PROTEX as they now publicly bear the stigma of prostitute, which they strongly deny ever having been. Although prostitution is not illegal in Argentina, the damage is huge in their personal, family, and professional life.

Those fabricated prostitutes were recently interviewed in Buenos Aires by Susan Palmer, an Affiliate Professor in the Religions and Cultures Department at Concordia University in Montreal (Canada) and Director of the Children in Sectarian Religions and State Control Project at McGill University (Canada), supported by the Social Sciences and the Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). These women are not from a vulnerable social class and have not been trafficked into Argentina. They belong to the middle class and had a job. During the interviews they again strongly denied having been involved in prostitution. As of today, PROTEX has not provided any evidence of prostitution, and consequently of any form of exploitation in this framework.

In a 22-page well-documented report published in the July-August issue of The Journal of CESNUR, Susan Palmer highlighted the various facets of the destructive effect of PROTEX operation in the lives of imaginary prostitutes and their imaginary pimps in BAYS.

The arrested persons were accused of criminal association, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and money laundering on the basis of Law No 26.842 on Prevention and Punishment of Human Trafficking and Assistance to Victims.

The legislation against sexual exploitation

Until 2012, this sort of criminal activity was punishable by Law 26.364 but on 19 December 2012, this law was amended in such a way that it opened the door to controversial interpretation and implementation. It is now identified as Law 26.842.

The financial exploitation of prostitution by third parties must undoubtedly be prosecuted in courts as the victims are most often poor local women, female refugees, or women imported for prostitution purposes. Some accept to be considered as victims. Others do not. In this second category, a number of women state that prostitution is their choice because they fear reprisals from their pimp or the mafia ring on which they depend. They may therefore be considered as victims as well by the courts in charge of an investigation, despite their denials.

Other independent prostitutes who are not linked to any network also declare that it is a real life choice and that they are not victims. It is at this point that the interpretation and the application of Law 26.842 become very problematic because the legal system considers them to be victims, despite their denials.

Last but not least, other women who have not been involved in prostitution are held to be victims, against their will, by the judicial system because of an investigation into an organization suspected of sexual exploitation. This is the case of the nine women having attended the Buenos Aires Yoga School who vehemently deny any prostitution activity in their lives.

Abolitionism, a questionable “feminist” concept

Two political standpoints, abolitionism and accommodation, are at loggerheads on the prostitution issue.

With regard to legislation on prostitution, abolitionism is a school of thought that aims to abolish prostitution and rejects all forms of accommodation that authorize it. The supporters of both approaches agree on the decriminalization of prostitution, but abolitionism currently considers “all” prostitutes to be victims of a system that exploits them due to their vulnerability. This viewpoint about the victims and their situation of vulnerability has been adopted by PROTEX.

The original aim of the abolitionist movement was to oppose the accommodation and regulation of prostitution, which among other things imposed medical and police controls on prostitutes.

The accommodation and regulation of prostitution in fact amounted to the establishment of prostitution and the officialisation of procuring. As the neo-abolitionist movement, with a more radicalized vision than that of the original abolitionism, asserted that the most intolerable forms of violence accompanying trafficking and forced prostitution are linked to the impunity of procurers, its aim is to prohibit all forms of exploitation of the prostitution wherever it is susceptible to take place.

The next step was to enlarge the scope of “irregularly authorized” places where prostitution could be exploited by criminal rings, such as “saunas,” “pubs,” “whisky clubs,” “night clubs,” “yoga clubs,” etc., which were said to be promoted with impunity in the media and in the public space. The Public Prosecutor’s Office encouraged the adoption of measures aimed at uncovering the veil of these “houses of tolerance,” which are the destination of the trafficking process for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and which enjoy an allegedly spurious and inappropriate legal recognition.

This approach provided an open door to suspicions of sexual exploitation in spiritual groups such as BAYS.

The drifting of PROTEX about the victimization issue

The controversial implementation of the controversial Law 26.842 along with its dissemination in and by the intellectual elite and the judiciary in Argentina was criticized by Marisa S. Tarantino in a book she published in 2021 under the title “Ni víctimas ni criminales: trabajadores sexuales. Una crítica feminista a las políticas contra la trata de personas y la prostitución” (Neither Victims nor Criminals: Sex Workers. A Feminist Critique of Anti-Trafficking and Anti-Prostitution Policies; Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica de Argentina).

Marisa Tarantino is Legal Prosecutor of the Attorney General’s Office of the Nation and was the former Secretary of the Federal Criminal and Correctional Prosecutor’s Office No. 2 of the Federal Capital. She is a specialist in Justice Administration (Universidad de Buenos Aires/ Buenos Aires University) and Criminal Law (Universidad de Palermo/ Palermo University). As she has participated in workshops organized by PROTEX, her opinion is all the more valuable. In short, these are a few of her findings:

– “UFASE-PROTEX—which had been one of the agencies strongly linked to the International Organization for Migration to address this issue—was especially dedicated to the task of disseminating the neo-abolitionist perspective, presenting it as the correct paradigm for dealing with cases of trafficking and sexual exploitation. This was reflected in the organization of multiple training courses and workshops, dissemination materials, ‘best practice protocols,’ and even in academic production. All this exerted a strong influence in various institutional spheres throughout the country” (p. 194).

– “Thus, the incorporation of this particular gender perspective, built from the main neo-abolitionist postulates, made it possible to (re)interpret the different forms of organization and exchange of sexual services in terms of criminal conflict and, more precisely, in terms of trafficking” (p. 195).

This is the context generated by the 2012 amendments to the law on trafficking and the exploitation of prostitution by criminal rings and PROTEX’ endorsement of the neo-abolitionist political model that was (mis)used to justify the crackdown on BAYS.

Apart from the political model, PROTEX found an ally in the person of the anti-cultist Pablo Salum who shot all his arrows at non-traditional religious or belief groups in Argentina, including a respected international Evangelical NGO whose 38 centers were recently raided on alleged charges of trafficking.

The diabolical triangle in the BAYS case: a political standpoint, the fabrication of false victims, the PROTEX and Salum couple

BAYS is the victim of a political model, its judicial architect PROTEX, and the anti-cultist Pablo Salum.

Salum, who had lived with relatives practicing yoga at BAYS until he was a teenager, arrived with an “added value” in the debate. He accused BAYS of being a “cult,” controlling and brainwashing women to involve them in prostitution for the purpose of financing itself. His position was comforted by a tidal wave of media reports, which reproduced his accusations without any check, This is how BAYS became “the horror cult” in Argentina and abroad.

Several reports by foreign researchers have however shown that Salum only spread fantasies and lies about BAYS and new religious movements to attract the attention of the media on his own person.

Some leaders of PROTEX unwisely started befriending Salum, in whom they saw an opportunity to investigate and prosecute new groups on the basis of charges of human trafficking and exploitation of prostitution.

On the one hand, according to PROTEX, people used for prostitution are all real victims because of the exploitation of their vulnerabilities, even if they fiercely deny it. On the other hand, according to Salum, cults achieve the same result by brainwashing their members and exploiting their weaknesses. The abuse of vulnerability according to PROTEX and the abuse of weakness according to the anti-cultist Salum thus lead to the same result: the creation of so-called victims who are unaware of being victims and deny it.

This explains the trap into which BAYS and the nine women described by PROTEX as unaware victims of prostitution by a criminal network have fallen.

How to get out of this trap? Argentina remains a democracy and justice is the main way out. The Christian group “Cómo vivir por fe” won its case against PROTEX in November 2022 after a raid instigated by Pablo Salum and accusations of exploitation and organ trafficking. The court criticized Salum for having “coached” and manipulated the main witness.

In the case of BAYS, brainwashing is a fantasy denounced as a non-existent concept by scholars in religious studies. Concerning the nine female plaintiffs the courts will have to recognize that there is no evidence of sale of sexual services.

The machinations of PROTEX and Co. were recently denounced by CAP/ Liberté de Conscience, an NGO with ECOSOC status, at the 53rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

PROTEX and the judiciary in Argentina would do well to heed this warning shot before losing face in front of the international human rights community when the ghost of prostitution vanishes in the BAYS case.

Photo above : Marisa S. Tarantino. From Twitter.

Photo: Canadian scholar Susan Palmer and her study of the BAYS alleged “victims.”

Further reading about FORB in Argentina on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

ARGENTINA: Abuses against Buenos Aires Yoga School denounced at the UN

ARGENTINA: Human rights abuses against Buenos Aires Yoga School denounced at the United Nations

At the 53th session of the UN Human Rights Council the UN ECOSOC-accredited NGO CAP-LC filed a written statement on the abusive activities of the anti-trafficking agency PROTEX targeting BAYS and other spiritual minorities.

by Thierry Valle

Bitter Winter (24.08.2023)

Written statement* submitted by Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status


The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.


[29 May 2023]

Human Rights Abuses Against Members of the Buenos Aires Yoga School


The Buenos Aires Yoga School (BAYS) was established in 1983 by Dr. Juan Percowicz to teach Raja Yoga, Western and Eastern philosophy, and their practical applications to improve personal well-being and daily life (information on BAYS and its case are taken by the only scholarly study of the group published in a peer-reviewed journal: Massimo Introvigne, “The Great Cult Scare in Argentina and the Buenos Aires Yoga School,” The Journal of CESNUR, 7.3, 2023, 3–32; parts of this study are reproduced here with permission).

By the early 1990, it had achieved considerable success. When on June 5, 1992, Percowicz presented the school’s philosophy in a lecture at the Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel & Towers, the event had been declared of “national interest” and had received the official congratulations of the Ministry of Culture and Education, the City of Buenos Aires, and several other institutions. The school’s musicians were gaining national and international recognition. Another student, Carlos Barragán, and his all-BAYS team were on their way to be acknowledged as the world champions of stage magic. Others had gained awards in the artistic, business, and medical fields.

As it often happens, success came together with envy, accusations by “anti-cultists” who do not tolerate unconventional thinking, and slander by a few parents dissatisfied with the fact that their sons or daughters had joined the BAYS. Unlike in other groups, where attacks come from a community of disgruntled “apostates,” in the case of BAYS there was only one former member who attacked the school: one Pablo Salum, who had been with it as a young man and went on to become a “career anti-cultist,” denouncing as “cults” the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Freemasons, the Seventh-day Adventists, and even the Catholic Discalced  Carmelite nuns.

Based on the accusations of hostile relatives, later joined by Pablo Salum, in 1994 a prosecution was started against the BAYS, accused of operating a prostitution ring to finance itself. After a long investigation, in 2000 all BAYS defendants were found innocent of all charges. The judge commented that Salum’s testimony was contradictory and reflected conflicts within his family more than the reality of the BAYS.

BAYS went on with its courses of philosophy and lived a quiet life until a special prosecutorial office called PROTEX (Procuraduría para el Combate de la Trata y Explotación de Personas, Office of the Procurator for Combating the Trafficking and Exploitation of Persons), some of whose leaders had started befriending Salum and listening to his anti-cult tirades, decided that it was in its best interest to expand its activities by considering the recruitment of members of religious groups stigmatized by their opponents as “cults” as a form of human trafficking.

In some cases, PROTEX was unsuccessful. For example, in the case of the Argentinian branch of the Australian Christian movement Jesus Christians, called “Cómo vivir por fe”, a raid instigated by Pablo Salum resulted in a decision of November 28, 2022, where all defendants were found innocent. The court castigated Salum for having “coached” and manipulated the main witness (see https://bitterwinter.org/argentina-how-the-jesus-christians-defeated-pablo-salum-and-protex/).

In the case of BAYS, since Salum kept accusing female members of the school (including his own sister) of working as prostitutes to finance the organization, the PROTEX believed it had a perfect case of trafficking, putting together “cults” and prostitution. Ignoring the fact that most of Salum’s accusations referred to old facts already judged in 2000, resulting in a double jeopardy, and that by 2022 most of the women he accused of being prostitutes were in their late forties, fifties, or sixties, PROTEX organized on August 12, 2022 a raid at a Buenos Aires building hosting a cafeteria where the BAYS lessons were offered and 25 private apartments of several students.

It was a militarized raid against BAYS students who were mostly middle-aged and elderly ladies. Fully armed SWAT team police broke the door and entered the coffee shop. A retired military man who was there recognized the weapons for what they were: loaded, with safety removed, and ready to shoot. In a few seconds, all hell broke loose. The police went up to all the apartments and started breaking all the doors, pursued in vain by their owners who offered the keys to the officers so that they could enter without destroying the entryways. Once inside, the police searched everywhere, gutting furniture and throwing all the content of the cabinets on the floors. When the agents left, with the media ready to take pictures of them outside the building, almost all owners complained that money and jewels had been stolen.

Similar scenes took place around Buenos Aires during all the night, in other private apartments of BAYS students, totaling 51 raids. In one of those apartments, a man was badly beaten by the police for no reason (it came out later they had mistaken him for somebody else). All in all, twenty persons were arrested (three of them at Buenos Aires airport before boarding a plane to the United States) and warrants for arrest were issued against another eight, four of whom were abroad.

The BAYS prisoners were submitted to a very harsh jail regime. Ten shared the same cell. Some of them were homosexuals and reported that they were insulted and intimidated by dangerous gang men who occupied a nearby cell.

Meanwhile, PROTEX and the judiciary interviewed the alleged “victims” who, according to Salum, had been persuaded by the BAYS to work as prostitutes. The youngest was a 36-year-old real estate agent, and their median age was 47. They included a 66-year-old social psychologist and a 62-year-old visual art teacher. They all emphatically denied being victims, having ever been prostitutes, or having been trafficked or manipulated by the BAYS. Salum and PROTEX answered by invoking the pseudo-scientific and discredited theory of brainwashing. The alleged “victims” had been brainwashed, they claimed, and as a consequence did not realize they were victims.

As they found no evidence of money coming from prostitution, they considered that the income of all the members came from such activity and that all the students’ businesses (a real estate agency, medical offices, an accounting firm, a law firm, a philosophical coaching company, etc.) were just a facade, ignoring the immense amount of accounting, banking and tax evidence (most of it collected in the raids) that proved that all their activities were true and legal. In this way they added “money laundering” to the charges without having analyzed even a single piece of evidence, thus affecting more students with criminal charges.

Given that Protex dictates courses and makes interventions in courts trying to install the idea of brainwashing and ignoring the advances of the last thirty years on the subject, it should not be surprising that the judge tries to support the position of these officials. Thus, to justify them he has accepted such eccentricities as the following:

1) To consider that Dale Carnegie’s famous work “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a brainwashing manual;

2) To maintain that BAYS held the alleged victims captive in apartments owned by them, and in which all of them continue to live peacefully at present;

3) Assert that a rest therapy administered by outside health professionals was used to “brainwash” the victims,” although among its most frequent patients were the BAYS managers themselves.

On November 4, 2022, the Court of Appeal freed all defendants from jail. They went home, although they suffer from post-traumatic stress and can hardly sleep at night. Even students who were not arrested are still traumatized by the terror of the raids. Their businesses have either been closed by the authorities or cannot function because of the negative media publicity. They are almost all jobless.

While we understand that the judiciary is independent and courts of law will eventually rule on the BAYS case, CAP-LC notes the abusive acts of PROTEX that violated in many ways the human rights of the BAYS members, and cooperated in orchestrating a media slander campaign that made it impossible for them to continue with their normal activities and jobs. The cooperation by PROTEX with a questionable character such as Pablo Salum also raises serious doubts about its anti-cult and anti-BAYS biases. CAP-LC asks the Argentinian government to investigate the abusive actions of PROTEX and to fully protect the human rights and freedom of religion or belief of all BAYS members, both those who are defendants in the case and those who are falsely depicted as “victims.”

Further reading about FORB in Argentina on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

ARGENTINA: Hate speech and intolerance: the case of a philosophical yoga school (II)

Photo: Armed SWAT team police led by PROTEX, a state agency dealing with human trafficking, labor and sex exploitation, abusively raiding Buenos Aires Yoga School (Credit: Bitter Winter)

ARGENTINA: Hate speech and intolerance: the case of a philosophical yoga school (II)

The US Annual State Department Report on Religious Freedom around the world and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) should grant more attention to anti-religious hate speech in Argentina.
See Article I HERE.

Spanish version

This article was originally published by Bitter Winter under the title “Anti-Cult Repression in Argentina 2. PROTEX and Pablo Salum” (18 August 2023)

It is time for the U.S. Department of State, USCIRF, and other international institutions to condemn human rights and freedom of religion abuses by PROTEX.


by Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (19.08.2023) – In the first article of this series, I discussed the cooperation between the special anti-trafficking Argentinian agency PROTEX and the professional anti-cultist Pablo Salum.

The latter’s favorite technique is to interview and weaponize so-called “survivors” and victims of any religious or belief community, that he labels with the magic repulsive word “cult,” and to publicize their—unverified—declarations on YouTube and social media. These disgruntled former members are supposed to reflect the hidden, true horrible face of various religious or belief groups, including inside mainline religions. The style is tabloid and populist. The objective is to be a source of breaking news, create the buzz and draw attention to his own person.

Anybody wanting to settle scores with a religious or belief movement he or she had problems with, directly or indirectly, is welcome on the YouTube channel of Salum, as it was also the case with a former member of the Soka Gakkai, a Japanese Buddhist movement.

Pablo Salum also directed PROTEX to attack the Christian lay movement “Cómo vivir por fe” (How to Live by Faith), the Argentinian branch of the Australian new religious movement “Jesus Christians” making a vow of poverty. The manipulation by Salum of a former member raising the specter of forced organ donation was denounced by the Argentinian judge who found no crime in the case, as Bitter Winter found out after some serious investigation.

In July last, PROTEX raided 38 centers of the well-known Evangelical NGO REMAR. Pablo Salum boasts, rightly or not, that he was “involved” in the operation but what is sure is that this crackdown in Argentina created a scandal in the Evangelical community internationally. REMAR is indeed a respected NGO specialized in the rehabilitation of drug addicts and (paradoxically) women victims of real trafficking. In several countries REMAR cooperates with the government. In Argentina, PROTEX claims that what they do is “trafficking”…

The harmful influence of Pablo Salum on religious tolerance in Argentina should not be underestimated.

On 1 August, a “collective of organizations and individuals fighting for the eradication of human trafficking in Argentina,” the “Stop Human Trafficking Network” (Red Alto al Tráfico y la Trata – RATT), organized and transmitted on the Senate’s TV channel a conference titled “Cults and Human Trafficking” (“Sectas y trata de personas”) which is now available on YouTube. The conference was held in a room of the Senate and there were approximately 100 people in the audience, plus the people watching the TV channel. The speakers were the senator who hosted the event, Dr. Daniel Bensusán; the authorities of the RATT, Viviana Caminos and Nancy Rodriguez; both the former (Zaida Gatti) and the new (Norma Mazzeo) coordinators of the “National Program for the Rescue and Accompaniment of Victims Affected by the Crime of Trafficking in Persons”; a lawyer sponsoring victims of human trafficking, Dr. Sebastian Sal; a “survivor” of the Opus Dei and, closing the conference, Pablo Salum.

Salum’s destructive role in the PROTEX operation against the Buenos Aires Yoga School (BAYS)

On 12 August 2022, PROTEX worked in tandem with police SWAT teams and with Pablo Salum when it launched a military-style police raid on the BAYS members-owned building, starting with the cafe on the ground floor.

Carlos Barragán, a professional stage magician, who was arrested and detained for about three months until all the charges against him were suddenly dropped, explained in an interview in Buenos Aires with Susan Palmer, an Affiliate Professor in the Religions and Cultures Department at Concordia University in Montreal (Canada) and director of the Children in Sectarian Religions and State Control project at McGill University (Canada), supported by the Social Sciences and the Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC): “Pablo Salum had told PROTEX that I had in my house—in my ‘bunker’ (as Salum calls it)—all the blackmail material for the extortion of rich men who were offered our women. He said videos of sex acts were taken so that we could extort money from them. So, the police smashed their way into my house and stole over 4,000 VHS, expecting to find blackmail material, but of course all they found were my historic collection of magic shows, and the VHS series on our philosophy classes in BAYS.”

This incident has destroyed the magician’s whole career. “Lie, lie and there will always be something left,” according to the saying.

Five women older than 50 years, three in their forties and one in mid-thirties were surprisingly said by the state agency PROTEX to have been victims of sexual exploitation by BAYS. The nine women vividly denied they had ever been prostitutes and exploited as such by BAYS. They are currently trying to sue the two PROTEX prosecutors in charge of the case.

A false victim (45 years) of alleged sexual exploitation, from a Jewish family, graduated from university with a MBA and who has been working for years in his father’s TV production company, told Susan Palmer: “Pablo Salum posted photographs of me and my dad and some of our employees at the TV station on Twitter. One woman resigned because she feared her image would be tainted working with us. My boyfriend, he lost his job in the real estate company, and he is now trying to rebuild his career. He started a new realtor business, he has a degree in this field. The mother of my boyfriend was one of those accused of human trafficking.”

The fabricated accusations also ruined the professional activities of other false victims and in several cases disturbed their relations with their partners.

US human rights reports and Argentina

Yet, it seems that the Argentinian authorities prioritize the instrumentalization of the BAYS case to endorse the dangerous brainwashing pseudoscience theory rejected by the academic world.

Argentina has the best ranking of the 2023 US Annual Report on Trafficking in Persons and an institution like PROTEX is undoubtedly necessary to combat labor trafficking and sexual exploitation. Yet, it is difficult to understand why the Argentinian authorities, and PROTEX in particular, go on using as a source an anti-cult activist who is now known for using defamatory hate speech against a wide range of religious and belief groups, spreading fake information and all sorts of lies about them with dramatic consequences for his victims.

The US also has other state mechanisms monitoring the harmful activities of anti-cult activists, such as the Department of State and USCIRF (US Commission on International Religious Freedom).

On 24 July 2023, USCIRF published a report titled “Religious Freedom Concerns about Religious Freedom in the European Union“ in which a section was devoted to the anti-cult issue and was stressing that “Several governments in the EU have supported or facilitated the propagation of harmful information about certain religious groups.” This is also the case with Argentina.

BAYS, as a philosophical belief system, can legitimately claim that it should be protected by Article 18 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on freedom of religion or belief.

The US Annual State Department Report on Religious Freedom around the world and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) should grant more attention to anti-religious hate speech in Argentina. Both the US Department of State and USCIRF are in the best position to warn PROTEX against their questionable implementation of the national Law No 26.842 on Prevention and Punishment of Human Trafficking and Assistance to Victims and the creation of false victims, such as in the BAYS case.

*Academic articles on the BAYS case:

By Susan Palmer: “From Cults to ‘Cobayes’: New Religions as ‘Guinea Pigs’ for Testing New Laws. The Case of the Buenos Aires Yoga School.”

By Massimo Introvigne: “The Great Cult Scare in Argentina and the Buenos Aires Yoga School.”

Argentinian members of “Cómo vivir por fe.” They successfully resisted Pablo Salum’s and PROTEX’s false accusations.

As self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner, Salum has already decided that the BAYS leader should go to jail. From Twitter.

Further reading about FORB in Argentina on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

FRANCE: Anti-cult FECRIS membership collapses from 57 to 19 associations

Photo: The Marseille Courthouse. Credits

FRANCE: Anti-cult Federation FECRIS membership collapses from 57 to 19 associations

FECRIS, a non-profit association under French law now headed by a Belgian Socialist politician, has suddenly withdrawn from its website 38 of its member associations. See why below in the article published by the European Times titled “Did anti-cult federation FECRIS lose at once 38 member associations, or did fake numbers before? by Jan Leonid Bornstein”

Version en français

The European Times (22.05.2023) – FECRIS is the European Federation of Centers for Research and Information on Sects and Cults, an umbrella organization funded by the French government, that gathers and coordinates “anti-cult” organizations throughout Europe and beyond. It has been the subject of several of our articles recently, for their support to the Russian propaganda against Ukraine, which had started far before the current invasion of Ukraine, but recently culminated through their Russian representatives.

In France, FECRIS is currently on trial, following a lawsuit filed by an NGO with UN consultative status named CAP Freedom of Conscience. The UN NGO is asking the Court of Marseille to disband FECRIS, due to its illegal activities, which include their support to their Russian members which are rabid attackers of Ukraine.

Table of Contents

  • FECRIS under scrutiny
  • Members “not authorized” to answer
  • Fake members or disaffected ones
  • Faking the list


FECRIS under scrutiny

Feeling under scrutiny since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, FECRIS had first hidden from their website the names of their Russian associations. But that did not prevent 82 Ukrainian prominent scholars to write to President Macron asking the end of FECRIS funding by the French government. So recently, FECRIS has merely taken off the whole list of its members from its website. Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox “anticultist” and anti-Ukrainian attacker Alexander Dvorkin was still part of the board of FECRIS, after having been its vice-president for 12 years, a kind of thorn in the side of FECRIS, struggling with its court case and its international catastrophic reputation.

A few days ago, a new list was put on their website, which of course did not mention anymore any Russian member-association. But interestingly enough, the list which contained 57 associations before the war, is now made of only 19 members… It’s a definite downfall. The listing is preceded by a warning: “any association (and its members) not included in this list is not or no longer part of FECRIS”. Does that mean that FECRIS is terminatedly shrinking, or that its 57 members where fake? That is what we wanted to understand.

Members “not authorized” to answer

So, we wrote to all current and “former” members of FECRIS asking a few questions about these new changes. Most of our requests remained unanswered, including with the President of FECRIS Belgian deputy André Frédéric, but we got a very few, but insightful, responses.

An Italian association which had been unlisted, S.O.S. ANTIPLAGIO, answered that they were not aware of having been unlisted and had not been warned in advance about it.

The Treasurer of FECRIS Didier Pachoud refused to answer and said that he would prefer that the answers come from the President of FECRIS. He said that he forwarded him the questions (which I had already sent) but I never heard back from the President.

The former President of FECRIS, Friedrich Griess, started by answering that he was not authorized to answer. Authorized by whom? I insisted politely and asked him what he thought of the numerous statements of Alexander Dvorkin and other Russian members of FECRIS regarding the war in Ukraine and the fact that Ukraine would be run by « cultists » manipulated by the West. He finally told me that he “was aware of the situation”, that he did “not support in any way the politics of Mr. Putin” and was “very unhappy about the actual situation because” he is “a good friend of Mr. Dvorkin”.

Finally the director of A.V.P.I.M. – Association des Victimes des Pratiques Illégales de la Médecine, Belgium, made an interesting answer. He explained to me that he was not in contact with FECRIS for 15 years, so before Alexander Dvorkin became the Vice President of FECRIS, and added that he had never been an active member of FECRIS. As his association was prominently featured as affiliated on FECRIS website in 2022, that triggered some curiosity.

So I randomly assessed some of the 38 associations that have been unlisted.

Fake members or disaffected ones

One of them, a Swedish group called Föreningen Rädda Individen (“Save the Individual Association”), had their website disappear end of 2020, and their last articles at this date were from 2017. So it looks that the association was not active for the last 6 years whilst it stayed on the FECRIS member list until recently.

Another one, NSS, National Spiritual Security of Armenia, had a website address that sends you directly to the National Security Service of Armenia, the main intelligence service of the country. Does that mean that FECRIS is actively working with that intelligence service, as they did with the FSB and other intelligence services in many states? God knows. But for sure, this “member”, whether it never existed or was really the Armenian intelligence service, had a taste of fake.

The association listed under the name S.A.D.K. – Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft gegen destruktive Kulte, in Switzerland, was in fact an Evangelical Center of Information, which for the French FECRIS, may taste a bit unsecular.

One of the disappeared associations, Sektenberatung Bremen (“Cult Advice of Bremen”), from Germany, seemed to be a one-man operation, has no website and since the late 90s there is no news about it anywhere.

Association of Religious Study Centers, in Kazakhstan, had only a Facebook page which does not exist anymore at least since 2021. It was never scanned by Web.archive.org before.

A FECRIS association in France named Attention Enfants (“Beware Children”) had their website vanished after May 2021. At this date, the last article on the website was dated 2006.

A Lithuanian association named C.P.B.- Cult Prevention Bureau never had any website, and no activity of such an association can be found on the internet, even in Lithuanian. Did it ever exist? Here again, God knows.

As we already explained in November, the Dneprpetrovsk City Center for the help to Victims of Destructive Cults “Dialogue”, in Ukraine, “has not published anything one line on their website since 2011. It looks like this member association stopped its activity more than 10 years ago but still remained on the FECRIS website to increase the number of members.” FECRIS had tried to defend itself against the accusations of being pro-Russian by stating they had Ukrainian members, but in fact one of them was not active for 10 years, and the other one was a pro-Russian Ukrainian operation.

A FECRIS association in Norway called Foreningen Redd Individet (“Save the Individual Association”) had no website and can’t be found anywhere on Internet, at least with rapid research, besides being listed on FECRIS associated websites. Maybe it existed nevertheless, but before the existence of Internet…

Infosec, in Moldova: No activity, no website. On the website of the unlisted FECRIS group Pancyprian Parents Union, in Cyprus, the last publications are dated 2010. In Sweden, RAM – Riksorganisationen Aktiva mot Manipulering (“National Organization Active Against Manipulation”) has no website and no activity. Then, the association in Ukraine named U.N.I.A. – Ukrainian Network “InterAction”, got their website disappearing in 2014, but even then, no article had been posted since June 2010.

Faking the list

No need to continue further. There are in fact two groups that have been unlisted from FECRIS website: one is the group of Russian members, whom FECRIS has supported for more than a decade and only disappeared when the risk for FECRIS reputation became too big for keeping them aboard. Through them, FECRIS has been an active supporter of Russian propaganda against Ukraine. Russian members had their main leader, Alexander Dvorkin, as Vice President of FECRIS until 2021 and he was member of the board until March 2023. FECRIS has never made any public statement to denounce the anti-Ukrainian activities of its members, and on the opposite, they have condoned their propaganda for years, inviting them to speak at their annual symposiums, along with official members of the French and Belgian governments.

The other group, maybe the biggest, is made of associations which in fact had stopped their activity long ago, if they ever had any. FECRIS was keeping them in the member list for one reason: look bigger when they were begging for subsidies from the French government.

Photo:  André Frédéric, FECRIS President,, President of the regional Walloon Parliament in Belgium, former member of the Belgian House of Representatives (1999-2018) and president of the Belgian anti-cult group Aviso, and Thierry Valle, President of CAP-LC. From Twitter.

Further reading about FORB in France on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

FRANCE: Anthroposophy: French State Television censored for its anti-cult bias

FRANCE: Anthroposophy: French State Television censored for its anti-cult bias

The French Council of Journalistic Ethic and Mediation found that France 2 relied excessively on apostate ex-members, and presented a distorted view of Steiner schools.

by Massimo Introvigne

Bitter Winter (15.05.2023) – The French Council of Journalistic Ethic and Mediation (CDJM) rendered on April 11 an interesting opinion about a complaint filed by the National Association for the Promotion and Future of Steiner-Waldorf Pedagogy (ANPAPS), representing the schools inspired by Anthroposophy in France, against the government-owned TV network France 2.

France’s journalistic milieus are normally biased against “cults” and tend to take seriously the information supplied by the governmental anti-cult agency MIVILUDES, which is often criticized abroad, and by “apostate” ex-members of religious movements. However, even in France there are limits, and the CDJM decision, which accepted several claims by the Anthroposophists, is extremely interesting because it censors French media’s typical approach to “cults.”

The case concerned a program titled “The Steiner Method, an Alternative Pedagogy Under Surveillance,” broadcast by France 2 on November 3, 2022. The program stated that “the Steiner-Waldorf schools strive to train future citizens who would not be able to fit into our Republic,” which corresponds to the accusation of “separatism” from common French “Republican” values commonly directed against both Islam and “cults.”

Rather than videos from present-day Steiner-Waldorf schools, the footage used consisted of “images from another century, in black and white, showing a group of students walking in circles in white togas, like the Solar Temple cult,” notorious for its mass suicides and homicides in the last decade of the 20th century. Statements by the MIVILUDES were repeated uncritically, and the program offered a tribune to Grégoire Perra, well-known as “the main detractor of Steiner-Waldorf pedagogy in France and of Anthroposophy.”

A request by the Anthroposophists to publish their response and a correction was ignored. France 2 defended itself by stating, inter alia, that it relied on statements by the MIVILUDES, a governmental agency. While, predictably, the CDJM stated that France 2 cannot be censored for quoting the MIVILUDES, it found aspects of the program’s presentation of the Steiner-Waldorf schools both inaccurate and sensational. It also censored the statement that it is difficult to obtain information on the Steiner-Waldorf schools from inside, observing that on the contrary the schools are open to visitors and primary sources about them are easily available online. The CDJM thus concluded that “France 2 violated the ethical obligation of accuracy.”

It also censored France 2 because it “chose not to broadcast contemporary images, but to insert black and white archival images of children running around in white togas. This excerpt is neither identified nor presented as an archival image, with an explicit mention on the screen. It has the effect of creating confusion on the current nature of the education that is provided in these institutions.”

Finally, the CDJM also noted that France 2 gave a prominent part in its program to anti-Anthroposophist Grégoire Perra and another opponent while the response by Anthroposophy was reduced to “a simple sentence given about fifteen seconds at the end of the sequence in question.” This, “when two witnesses, in particular, had spoken at length about their opposition to the [Steiner-Waldorf educational] method, cannot suffice as presentation of a reply, which would have been essential to achieve the balance requested by good journalistic practice.”

Finally, the CDJM notes that, when requested by the Anthroposophists, “no rectification of error was made to the online text accompanying the video of the sequence in question, and that France 2 therefore violated its ethical obligation to rectify inaccuracies and infringements of the truthfulness of the facts.”

In conclusion, while not all claims of the Anthroposophists were accepted, the CDJM concluded that France 2 on several points “violated.., the obligations of fairness and verification of the facts. It also failed to respect the ethical obligation to correct errors.”

This incident is not isolated. Throughout the world, and with a special viciousness in France, media presents issues about groups labeled as “cults” by relying on statements by anti-cultists and “apostate” ex-members, i.e., the minority of ex-members who turn into militant critics of the movement they have left. Media do not verify the facts, and refuse to give equal space to members of the movements who would present their different points of view. This may only result in biased and defamatory reports.

Professional watchdogs such as the CDJM may play an important role in correcting this widespread form of journalistic malpractice. Perhaps, more religious movements should file complaints with them in the future.


France 2 is not the voice of the French State. It is a French public national television channel. It is part of the state-owned France Télévisions group, along with France 3France 4France 5 and France Info. France Télévisions also participates in Arte and Euronews.


Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of some 70 books and more than 100 articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio.  From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the “Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). From 2012 to 2015 he served as chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty, instituted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.

Photo: The Steiner-Waldorf school in Verrières-le-Buisson, France. Credits.

Further reading about FORB in France on HRWF website

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1395

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1395

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1396

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1396

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1397