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Survivors of Sexual Violence by Clergy Gather in Geneva for Meeting with UN Committee on Rights of the Child

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Vatican Summoned Before International Committee for First Time Since Evidence of Worldwide Crisis Emerged

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June 18, 2013, Geneva – Tomorrow, representatives from SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and human rights NGO the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) will meet with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child where they will address the ongoing worldwide crisis of rape and sexual violence in the Catholic Church. The UN committee has summoned the Vatican to report on the status of its compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Vatican ratified in 1990. This is the first time the Vatican has been called to address its record on children’s rights since evidence of the widespread and systemic rape and abuse of children began to emerge more than two decades ago.

Said SNAP president and abuse survivor Barbara Blaine, “The fact that a United Nations committee has called the Vatican to account for its record on children’s rights, including the right to be free from sexual violence and exploitation, is giving survivors all over the world hope. Hope because our plight is being taken seriously at the highest levels, hope for justice, and hope that no more children will have to go through what we did.”
 
The groups presented their shadow report which provides factual overview of the scope and magnitude of the crisis and the cover-up, and explains how the Convention was violated. The report is available here. While the fact of the meeting is public and historic, the contents of the meeting are to be confidential. The Committee is expected to incorporate the information from this meeting into public questioning it does of the Vatican in January 2014.
 
“The Vatican is in violation of its human rights obligations to protect children from sexual violence. In fact, they are maintaining a system that both condones the cover ups and enables these offenses,” said Pam Spees, Senior Human Rights Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “If they were truly making good faith efforts to take care of the problem, we would have seen bishops being suspended or fired for their role in covering up these crimes, instead of rewarded,” She continued, “We are pleased that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has invited survivors to discuss these critical issues.”
 
Survivors are creating a worldwide movement in response to crimes by priests that have been committed across the globe. SNAP has members in 67 countries, and visits to the SNAP website come from 122 countries. The first international meeting of survivors took place in Dublin in April, and prosecutions in states around the world are growing.
 
SNAP is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. It has existed for 23 years and has more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in its title, it has members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Visit www.snapnetwork.org.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.