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Vatican says UN report will clear it of torture

AFP , Friday 23 May 2014
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The Vatican said a report from the United Nations due out on Friday would heavily criticise its handling of abuse cases but would not find it in violation of an anti-torture convention.

"The Committee did not find the Holy See in violation of the CAT (Convention Against Torture)," the Vatican said in a statement ahead of the official publication of the conclusions of the Geneva-based panel later on Friday.

The Vatican also said the report did not find the Church's opposition to abortion constituted torture "thus safeguarding the fundamental right of freedom of religion and the protection and promotion of human life".

But it said the panel of independent rights and legal experts would accuse the Vatican of "failing to mandate that abuse accusations be reported to police, moving clergy to evade discipline and failing to see that victims obtain adequate compensation."

"The Holy See takes note and will give serious consideration to these recommendations," it said.

But the Vatican also reiterated its defence that priests around the world are not "legally tied to the Vatican as a sovereign" and instead fall under national jurisdictions.

The UN panel grilled the Vatican earlier this month in a two-day session as the Church defended an approach which victim support groups said had "failed terribly".

It was the first time the Vatican had been scrutinised since it signed up in 2002 to a global convention banning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment.

The Church has been shaken by a decade-long cascade of scandals over abuse by priests and lay officials, from Ireland to the United States to Australia.

Hundreds of priests have been defrocked or removed from public duties but campaigners say more should be done to prosecute them and punish the bishops guilty of cover-ups.

Victim support groups had insisted that rape and molestation of children fell under the terms of the anti-torture convention.

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