vrijdag, juni 14, 2013
Hague Court Declines Inquiry Into Church Abuse Cover-Up
Victims of sexual abuse filed a complaint in 2011 asking the court to prosecute Benedict XVI, then the pope, and three other Vatican officials for what they called an international and systemic cover-up of sexual abuse that amounted to “crimes against humanity.”
The court responded in a letter dated May 31 that after analyzing the complaint, it had determined that the matters “do not appear to fall within the jurisdiction of the court.” The letter said that “some of the allegations” fell outside the court’s jurisdiction, which is to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In addition, the case did not appear to meet the court’s time limits. For the most part, the court may prosecute only crimes committed after it was constituted in July 2002, and even though the cases submitted by the victims involved more recent allegations, some of the supporting material predated 2002.
The court said that “the decision not to proceed may be reconsidered in the light of new facts or information,” and suggested that the cases could be brought to “appropriate national or international authorities.”
The outcome was exactly what many international and human rights lawyers had anticipated. Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, the victims advocacy group that initiated the case, said, “We’re neither deterred nor discouraged by this news.”
Pamela Spees, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights who handled the case for the victims group, said that she knew it faced “many hurdles,” but that it was worthwhile because abuse victims from many countries had stepped forward after hearing about the case being taken to the International Criminal Court.
“We’re talking about people from more than 70 countries, survivors in Africa and Latin America who were isolated before, and who now have a whole different understanding of what happened to them and how it relates to the church,” she said.
Ms. Spees said she had delayed making the letter public to give her enough time to notify the victims in various countries who had presented their cases to the court.
The complaint named Benedict, who stepped down in February and is now pope emeritus; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state; Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the previous secretary of state; and Cardinal William J. Levada, an American who formerly led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office designated to receive cases of clergy sexual abuse forwarded by bishops.