Geneva--Victims to testify to UN Panel on torture

Geneva--Victims to testify to UN Panel on torture

Victims testify to UN Panel on torture

Clergy abuse victims seek government intervention by US and Australia

This week a panel at the United Nations is reviewing compliance with meeting treaty obligations for, among other State parties, the United States and Australia. The review is being conducted by independent human rights experts from ten nations who make up the Committee Against Torture. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP, has partnered with the Center for Constitutional Rights in submitting a Shadow Report outlining failures of the United States to protect against and provide redress for the nationwide and systemic sexual violence and cover-up by Catholic clergy. SNAP submitted a similar report outlining the same failures by the government of Australia. (Both reports are available at SNAPnetwork.org)

The review is being conducted by independent human rights experts from ten nations at the High Commission for Human Rights of the United Nations in Geneva. The actual proceedings are available on the internet via live webcast. Representatives from SNAP from both the United States and Australia are providing testimony and reports to the Committee which will review Australia on Monday and Tuesday followed by the United States on Wednesday and Thursday.  http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=930&Lang=en   

The Committee Against Torture reviewed the Holy See earlier in 2014 and explicitly recognized cases of rape and sexual violence committed by clergy as within the purview of the treaty which both the United States and Australia have adopted. The Committee and other sources of international law view rape and sexual violence as amounting to torture.

The treaty requires each State to prevent torture, to establish laws outlining jurisdiction when offenses are committed in its territory and when the alleged offender and/or the victim is a national of the State Party. It also calls for prompt and impartial investigations, for cases to be promptly and impartially examined, for alleged victims to be protected against ill-treatment and intimidation and for redress and an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation.

SNAP recommends:

-        The Australian government ensures church officials provide all requested evidence and testimony to the Royal Commission currently taking place and that its government promptly and completely follow all recommendations of the Royal Commission.

-        The US government ensures that victims of rape and sexual violence by church employees have a right to redress.

-        The US government establishes a commission or public entity to assess and provide support to victims and survivors who have been unable to obtain redress elsewhere, especially those barred by civil courts’ statutes of limitation.

-        The US government undertakes a comprehensive and thorough investigation into the administrative and institutional practices of the Catholic Church within the US.

-        The US and Australian governments ensure that the CAT concluding observations and recommendations to the Holy See (May 2014) are implemented by catholic officials operating in the Catholic Church in Australia and in the US.

Contact: Barbara Blaine, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 312-399-4747, bblaine@snapnetwork.org, Nicky Davis, SNAP Australia Director, +61 422 538 440, nicky@nickydavis.com.au , David Clohessy 314-566-9790, davidgclohessy@gmail.com,  Barbara Dorris, 314-503-0003, bdorris@snapnetwork.org.

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