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Holy See to be reviewed by UN Committee Against Torture


Holy See to be reviewed byUN Committee Against Torture

NGOs call on UN to consider rape and otherforms of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church as violations of theConvention Against Torture by the Holy See.

Geneva (Switzerland), 2 May 2014.

TheUN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) will review the Holy See for its adherenceto the Convention Against Torture (CAT) on Monday 5 May 2014.

Rapeand other sexual abuse of children have been rife in the Catholic Church fordecades, if not centuries. NGOs, including Child Rights International Network(CRIN) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), argue that rape andother sexual abuse of children committed by or with the acquiescence of HolySee officials amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, andas such are a violation of CAT.

CRINand OMCT presented their joint alternative report to the UNCAT committeemembers today (2 May) just prior to the Holy See’s review on Monday, followedby a lunch briefing with other NGOs and survivors of sexual abuse committed byCatholic clerics.

CRINand OMCT believe that, by acquiescing to rape and other forms of sexual abusecommitted worldwide by Catholic clergy and others operating under the HolySee’s authority, the Holy See has failed its duties to prevent torture andother acts of ill-treatment within its jurisdiction, thereby violating CAT.

Although the Holy See hasstarted to recognise the seriousness and scale of the abuse, this has notresulted in clear action to ensure that allegations of child sexual abuse arereported publicly and investigated and prosecuted by law enforcementauthorities.

During the private meetingwith the Committee, CRIN and OMCT emphasised that the Holy See’s failure toexercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, prosecute and punishperpetrators has and continues to facilitate and enable Catholic clergy andothers under its authority to commit acts of rape and other forms of sexualabuse with impunity.

As a final recommendation,CRIN and OMCT urged the Committee to call on the Holy See to:

• Disclose all information held bythe Holy See on cases of rape and other forms of sexual abuse by clerics andothers under its authority to the Committee and the public, including the measuresthe Holy See has taken in response to these cases, while protecting the privacyof victims;

• Immediatelyremove all known and suspected childsexual abusers from service, reportthe matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities, and cooperate with such authorities intheir investigation and prosecution;

• Amend the Canon Law in orderfor child sexual abuse, including rape, to be considered a crime and not a“delict against the moral”, and repealall provisions which may impose an obligation of silence on victims and allthose that become aware of such crimes;

• Establishclear rules, mechanisms and procedures for mandatoryreporting of all suspected cases of rape and other forms of sexual abuse tolaw enforcement authorities, and ensure that all persons under the authority ofthe Holy See are made aware of their reporting obligations and of the factthat, in case of conflict, these obligations prevail over Canon Law provisions;and

• Createa publicly accessible complaints procedureand a compensation scheme forvictims of sexual abuse, including rape, by clerics and others under theauthority of the Holy See.

UNCAT’s review of the HolySee on 5 May comes during the Committee’s 52nd session, held in Geneva,Switzerland. All official documentation, including alternative reports by otherNGOs, can be found on UNCAT’s session page.

The UNCAT review comesshortly after another UN human rights body, the Committee on the Rights of theChild, rebuked the Holy See for itshandling of the child sexual abuse scandal and its violation of children’srights earlier this year.

The review will start at10am (Geneva time) and can be followed live on the treaty body webcast: NGOs will also be reportingfrom Geneva using Twitter - follow #VaticanAccountability.

Other States under reviewduring UNCAT’s 52nd session are: Cyprus, Lithuania, Montenegro, Sierra Leone,Thailand, Uruguay and Guinea (without a State report).

For furtherinformation, please contact:

OMCT, MsCarolina Barbara, Child Rights Coordinator, Tel. +41 (0) 22 809 49 39, Email:

Notes to editors

ChildRights International Network (CRIN) is a global children’s rights advocacynetwork. Established in 1995, we press for rights - not charity - and campaignfor a genuine shift in how governments and societies view and treat children.We are based in the UK, but link to nearly 3,000 organisations that betweenthem work on children’s rights in every country in the world and rely on ourpublications, research and information sharing. CRIN envisions a world in whichevery child enjoys all their human rights guaranteed by the United Nations,regional organisations and national governments.

CRINlaunched a campaign earlier this year to end sexual violence inreligious institutions.

TheWorld Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), created in 1985 and based in Geneva,is today the main coalition of NGOs fighting against torture, summaryexecutions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degradingtreatment. With 311 affiliated organisations in its SOS-Torture Network andmany tens of thousands correspondents in every country, OMCT is the mostimportant network of non-governmental organisations working for the protectionand the promotion of human rights in the world.

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