Ursula Caberta is an employee of the Ministry of the Interior for the State of Hamburg, in Germany. The rights of religious minorities have come under attack in Germany in recent years causing the United States Department of State to formally admonish the German government for enacting legislation which violates international standards of human rights. Caberta is a driving force behind this anti-religious movement in Germany.
Caberta was responsible for hosting an annual “award” which was created for those who engage in anti-religious activities. Named the “Alternative Charlemagne Award,” it mocks Germany’s official Charlemagne Award which is presented yearly to international figures (such as former President Bill Clinton) who promote European unity and world peace. Caberta’s “award,” on the other hand, recognizes and encourages those who promote divisiveness and the persecution of religious minorities.
On January 14, 2003, the Hamburg Administrative Court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Interior Ministry from allowing Caberta from repeating certain public statements of a false and derogatory character about the Church of Scientology.
The Churches brought the case on the grounds that Caberta should be restrained as she has blatantly violated her duty of neutrality as a government employee – evidenced by her having personally received on June 26, 2000 a sum of $75,000 from a private individual who at that time was funding anti-Scientology litigation in the United States.
Under German law, a government employee may be sentenced for up to three years if the individual accepts an advantage for oneself in exchange for the execution of an official function on another’s behalf. A penal investigation regarding this matter resulted in Ms. Caberta being fined 7,500 euros in June 2002. The Ministry apparently made no requirement that Caberta pay back the money: Nor did it restrain her due to the obvious conflict in any way.
The Hamburg Administrative Court, in its January 14, 2003 decision, found the loan and the circumstances under which it was given constituted a violation of neutrality. Caberta, the Court noted:
“has not shown the slightest indication that she understands the inadmissibility of the acceptance of private financial support under the legal provisions for how official duties should be conducted.”
The Court also made an unequivocal statement criticizing the Interior Ministry for failing to take strong and effective action against Caberta.
“However, it is not evident that independent from the penal proceeding, the government has conducted internal administrative investigations on this matter to determine whether Mrs Caberta received the amount of $75,000 from a declared and active Scientology opponent ‘for the performance of duties’ in the meaning of Art. 331 Section 1 Penal Code. Looking at the overall circumstances it would at least have been appropriate to subject Mrs. Caberta, who is not a government official but an employee of the respondent, to a warning pursuant to labor law and to demand she immediately repay the amount of money received within a stated time limit.”
The Hamburg Court found that:
“it would therefore have been urgently required on the part of the respondent [Interior Ministry] to emphatically notify this employee after the respondent learned of the granting of the loan but latest after the end of the penal proceeding, to remind her of her fundamental duty of neutrality as a public employee and, if necessary, to also guarantee this through a proper warning pursuant to labor law.”
Caberta has a long record of hostility and discrimination towards the Scientology religion and its American and German members. On June 4, 1992, while still an MP, she told the Hamburg state parliament that “we will carry on and will free Germany from Scientology.”
More than any other German official, she is responsible for the wide distribution of the “sect filters” that the State Department has frequently criticized as an abuse of human rights.
Indeed, in 2000, a German Scientologist living and working in the United States filed suit against Ms. Caberta after he was presented with her “sect filter” by a German company during contract negotiations. In a subsequent ruling by the U.S. federal court in Tampa, Florida, Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Jenkins condemned Caberta’s behavior throughout the litigation as “evasive”, “unresponsive”, “uncooperative” and “argumentative”, and sanctioned her for non-compliance with court orders.
The U.S. State Department has itself criticized Caberta for human rights abuses against American citizens: She is the “sect commissioner” referred to in the 2000 Annual Human Rights Report for 2000 who made unfounded public accusations against Scientologists.
This is not the first time that German courts have found that Caberta had violated the German Constitution in abusing the rights of Scientologists. In 1994, the Hamburg State Court of Appeals enjoined the Interior Ministry from further distribution of an anti-Scientology booklet. The Court stated:
“The principle of neutrality and tolerance has been violated by the opponent by giving non objective opinions about the doctrine of the applicant… The opponent’s restriction of the fundamental right of the applicant per article 4 subsect 1 and 2 GC is illegal to this extent.”