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Holy See faces tough UN grilling over child abuse
Representatives to be questioned in Geneva over cover-ups
Picture: The Independent
- Heather Saul for The Independent
- January 16, 2014
The Vatican will be grilled by a UN panel over cases of child sex abuse, and will be forced to defend itself over allegations it failed to prevent the rape of thousands of children by protecting paedophile priests at the expense of victims.
The Holy See will be questioned on Thursday by a UN committee in Geneva on its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that calls for signatories to undertake all appropriate measures to protect children from harm and to put the interests of children above all else.
The Holy See ratified the convention in 1990 and submitted a first implementation report in 1994. However, it did not provide progress reports for almost ten years, and only submitted one in 2012 after receiving a storm of criticism following the revelations in 2010 of child sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond, the Associated Press has reported.
Victims groups and human rights organisations have since rallied together to call for the UN committee to challenge the Holy See on its abuse failures, providing written testimony from victims and evidence outlining the global scale of the problem.
Their reports reference case studies from Mexico and Britain, grand jury investigations in the US, and government fact-finding inquiries from Canada to Ireland to Australia that detail how the Vatican's policies, its culture of secrecy and fear of scandal may have contributed to the problem.
In the reports they also include correspondence from a Vatican cardinal allegedly praising a French bishop's decision to protect his abusive priest, and another Vatican command to Irish bishops to strike any mandatory reporting of abusers to police from their policies.
"For too many years, survivors were the only ones speaking out about this and bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism," said Pam Spees, a human rights lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which provided a key report to the committee.
Full Story: Vatican faces UN grilling over child abuse
Source: The Independent