August 15, 2013
Committee against Torture calls Catholic officials to account
For the second time in recent months, a United Nations panel will soon determine if Vatican officials are complying with an international treaty. The Geneva-based UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) has set next May as the date for a review of whether top church officials are honoring the 1984 treaty on torture.
"Every time anyone tells Catholic officials 'You will be held to the same standard as other institutions,' that's progress," said Barbara Blaine of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "This is an encouraging development. We suspect this committee will see and point out how the church hierarchy continues to tolerate and enable sexual violence."
"Vatican bureaucrats have long made and broken promises with impunity. Ever so slowly, those days are waning," said David Clohessy of SNAP. "But progress is happening only because of brave victims and determined advocates. So for the safety of innocent kids and vulnerable adults, we all must all keep pressing hard and keep exposing complicity."
In June, two US SNAP leaders traveled to Geneva and met with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, chaired by Kirsten Sandberg of Norway. In July, that panel released a list of "issues" related to child sex crimes and cover ups that church officials must response to by Nov. 1.
In January, Vatican staffers are expected to appear before the committee to answer questions about their failure to file required reports in a timely fashion and about clergy sex crimes and cover up.
The Committee Against Torture (CAT) “is the body of 10 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties.” http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CAT/Pages/CATIndex.aspx
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the “body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/”
In recent years, SNAP has escalated its efforts to expose and deter clergy sex crimes and cover ups across the globe. Helping SNAP in this drive is a New York City based non-profit called the Center for Constitutional Rights.
In September 2011, SNAP and CCR filed a formal, lengthy, complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) charging four top Vatican officials with crimes against humanity. In May 2013, ICC prosecutor Mrs. Fatou Bensouda of The Gambia declined to peruse the case. SNAP however intends to continue with the case submitting additional evidence of ongoing sexual violence and cover-ups soon.
The CAT is chaired by Claudio Grossman of Chile.
For more information: Attorney Pam Spees of CCR (firstname.lastname@example.org 212-614-6464 or 337-526-4673 cell), David Clohessy of SNAP (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine of SNAP (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)