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UN rights committee criticizes Vatican over child sex abuse

The UN Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child [official website] on Thursday criticized the Vatican [official website] on the its handling of child sex abuse. During questioning in Geneva, committee member Sara Oviedo forced Vatican officials to acknowledge [AFP report] that the Holy See had been slow to react to allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members. During hours of questioning, members of the committee pressed the Vatican over what kind of sanctions are imposed on abusive priests, whether bishops cover up priests by transferring them to other parishes, and transparency. Vatican former sex crimes prosecutor Monsignor Charles Scicluna, while admitting some Vatican fault, assured the committee it was committed to to take action against anyone who obstructs justice. Legal groups, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website], called Thursday's hearing [CNN report] "a milestone in calling for an end to these days of impunity."

The CCR filed [JURIST report] an International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] complaint [complaint, PDF] in 2011 against Vatican officials for systematic sexual abuse and the concealment of such incidents. The complaint was filed on behalf of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) [advocacy website] and included more than 20,000 pages of materials relating to the crimes. The claim was seen as likely to focus international attention on the issue of sexual abuse of children around the world, even if the complaint does not reach the ICC's jurisdictional standards. In 2010 the Vatican released [JURIST report] church procedures for handling alleged cases of sexual abuse by priests.

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