Vatican fails to file report on child rights
GENEVA — The Vatican has failed to send the United Nations a report on child rights that is now almost 13 years overdue, the head of a UN panel said.
Like all countries that have signed the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Vatican is required to submit regular reports on its efforts to safeguard child rights.
But the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, despite sending repeated reminders, has received no explanation from the Holy See for why it missed a 1997 deadline, according to the committee’s chairwoman Yanghee Lee. In the years since, the Vatican has come under scrutiny over its handling of child sex abuse allegations around the world and recently admitted that up to 1 in 20 priests may be implicated.
“I’ve made contact with the Holy See on several occasions,’’ Lee said. “I haven’t received anything.’’
Officials at the Vatican’s mission in Geneva declined comment yesterday, saying the Catholic city state’s envoy to the United Nations, Silvano Tomasi, was unavailable. Tomasi refused to discuss the report last month, saying he was “only the messenger,’’ not the author of the report.
A Vatican representative told the United Nations last year that the report was being “finalized as we speak.’’
Appearing before the UN’s Human Rights Council in September, Hubertus Matheus Van Megen said “a paragraph will be dedicated to the problem of child abuse by Catholic clergy.’’
The Vatican has faced claims that it has covered up clerical sex abuse around the world.
Van Megen told the council that the church was “very conscious of the seriousness of the problem’’ but insisted critics had misrepresented the situation.
“From available research we know now that in the last 50 years somewhere between 1.5 and 5 percent of the Catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse cases,’’ he said.
While the Vatican delivered an initial report in 1995, the second, third, and fourth reports are now overdue, according to Lee. This puts it on a par with the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Only five Pacific minnow states — the Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Tuvalu, and Tonga — have failed to deliver any kind of report.