Jacques LEJEUNE

Ex-Jehovah’s Witness speaks of his court case against the organisation 

 

My name is Jacques Lejeune. I was a Jehovah’s Witness for 17 years, from 1985 to 2002.

I am an auditor and tax adviser and I was excluded from the cult because I defended one of my customers who was also a Jehovah’s Witness against the leaders of the cult. I had become a nuisance and they preferred to silence me.

 

However, the reason for my exclusion is not that important because any society has the right to exclude one of its members. What I disputed and continue to dispute before the courts, is the discrimination of which I am a victim.

 

My former co-religionists cannot any more say a simple hello to me without fearing of being themselves excluded. Moreover, my wife is always a Jehovah’s Witness and this situation created tensions in the family.

 

For the first time in Europe, the Court of Appeal of Liege decided a few weeks ago, on February 6, 2006, that the specific written instructions given by Jehovah’s Witnesses against those they have excluded constitute an obstacle to freedom of worship. Indeed, to be able to again keep up their family bonds those exclude must become Jehovah’s Witnesses again. This is a first victory. The Court, however, did not condemn the Jehovah’s Witnesses, since it says in its judgement: "the victim", I quote, "must prove that discrimination in fact took place in his personal relationships" i.e., relating to me, personally. However, the Belgian law of February 25, 2003 against discrimination stipulates that when the victim of discrimination presents facts which one may likely suppose show that discrimination exists, the burden of the proof of the absence of discrimination falls on the opposing party, i.e. in this case on the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A presumption of discrimination is thus sufficient in Belgium.  In this respect, the Belgian law is exemplary and would undoubtedly deserve to be followed by other European countries. It is a great innovation although the Court of Appeal of Liege did not consider this.

 

I thus asked my lawyer before the Supreme Court of appeal, the Supreme Court of Belgium, to consider breaking the judgement to be able to condemn Jehovah’s Witnesses because of their discriminatory instructions. My victory could thus be total. I now wait for news from the   lawyer at the Supreme Court of Appeal in a few weeks time.

 

The judgement of the Liège Court of Appeal and its English translation were at the disposal of the participants.