Holy See under review by the UN Committee Against Torture

The UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) is reviewing the Holy See for its adherence to the Convention Against Torture on 5 May 2014.

Rape of children in the Catholic Church has been rife for decades, if not centuries, and is defined as torture under international law if carried out by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence by public officials. CRIN also believes that other forms of child sexual abuse committed with the same level of consent or acquiescence by public officials are violations of the Convention Against Torture because such acts amount to cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment.

Following the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s rebuke of the Holy See earlier this year for its role in the child sexual abuse scandal - including allowing impunity for abusive priests and alleged large scale cover-ups - a number of NGOs have raised this issue as part of the Holy See’s review by UNCAT. NGOs have called on the UN body to urge the Holy See to remove all abusive priests from the priesthood and report them to law enforcement authorities, offer full disclosure on what the State knows regarding child sexual abuse in the Church, and establish a complaints procedure for victims, among other recommendations.

Read the alternative reports submitted by the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and CRIN (a summary of this report is also available), and the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). More alternative reports can be found on UNCAT’s 52nd session page, including one by the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, which expresses concern around the Holy See condoning corporal punishment against children - a form of violence violating the Convention. Another by the Centre for Reproductive Rights argues that the Holy See’s stance on abortion and conception, as well as the State’s interference with policy reform in other countries, amounts to a violation of the Convention.

You can follow the Holy See’s review on Monday 5 April (starting 10am Geneva time) via the treaty body webcast and #VaticanAccountability on Twitter. 

In addition to the Holy See, UNCAT will review the following States for their adherence to the Convention Against Torture: Cyprus, Lithuania, Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uruguay and Guinea (the latter without a State report). Read more about how UNCAT and other treaty bodies work. You can find all relevant documents for those State reviews on UNCAT's 52nd session page, and more information on NGO involvement can be found on our session page

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