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We are glad to inform you that after our pleasant experience with the Italian blog, the IIMA Human Rights Office has decided to open a new blog in English.

On this blog, you may follow our main activities with the United Nations and its mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as news from the UN bodies and IIMA offices in different countries related to the right to education.

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The CRC on the Holy See

On the 16th of January 2014, IIMA attended a meeting between the Committee on the Rights of the Child and a delegation from the Holy See to discuss the implementation of their human rights obligations in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols. This was only the second such meeting since the Holy See ratified the Convention in 1990. It is significant that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is one of only three international instruments which the Holy See has ratified. The meeting, unusually, took place in the presence of a large amount of media representatives along with victims of sexual abuse. Such meetings are a regular feature of being a State Party to the convention and are not arranged in response to any one particular issue. However, the controversy surrounding the abuse scandals within the Catholic Church ensured that this would be the predominant subject of discussion.

H.E Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi Apolstolic Nuncio, the head of the Permanent Mission from the Holy See, led the delegation. Bishop Scicluna, the first Bishop to publicly denounce child abuse taking place within the Church, was also present. This was a clear indication of the severity with which the Holy See treated this consultation.
The meeting dealt with six broad categories: transparency, Canon law, education, abuse, sale of children and child involvement in policy formation.
In response to probing from the committee concerning the abuse scandal, the delegation emphasised that their jurisdiction does not override that of States, insisting that it is rather a spiritual jurisdiction and does not substitute the legitimate role of domestic law. Significantly, as of the 3rd of May 2011, local Churches or religious communities must follow domestic law concerning mandatory disclosure. It was also explained that in Canon law a triple distinction is made when passing judgement. This includes a judgement of not proven guilty when it is judged that, despite lack of evidence, it is not in the best interest of the public to fully acquit the accused. As the Holy See caters for communities those judged “not proven guilty” are not placed in positions where they have access to the broader public. In addition, in 2010 Pope Benedict XVI revisited legal changes made by Pope John-Paul II in 2001 in order that procedures following child abuse complaints be made more expedite. In 2010 a system was also introduced whereby, on a case by case basis, canon law can be waived to pursue investigations regardless of technicalities. However, the delegation emphasised that there was no presumption of guilt and that the right to a defence still stands in Canon law.
Despite this, the experts of the Committee were firm in their insistence that better infrastructure, more transparent proceedings and better published statistics are required regarding abuse, not least because transparency of proceedings allowed for much more comprehensive involvement and just compensation for victims.
The Holy See will also meet with CAT, the Committee against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, later this year.

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