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stop vatican immunity for sexual abuse

press release 13/01/2022

VSA continues the fight: victims of sexual abuse by Church clergy move to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR for a reassessment.


The ECHR ruled on 12 October 2021 that the victims of sexual abuse by Church clergy cannot seek compensation in civil courts because the Vatican and its representatives can invoke the state immunity of the Holy See.


What is the result? The victims are left out in the cold: the perpetrators are not accountable, the victims are not recognized for their suffering and receive no compensation of any kind.


This judgment does not only affect the applicants in this case, but touches every victim of sexual abuse by clergy on the European continent.

It is precisely because of this important and irrevocable impact that the ECHR provides for the possibility of having the case reviewed by the Grand Chamber (composition of 27 judges) in extremely exceptional cases concerning a serious issue of general importance.


Given the extremely unjust consequences and the high precedent value of the judgment, a request for referral to the Grand Chamber was filed on 12 January 2022 on behalf of the victims. Thousands of people worldwide, several national and international professors and various human rights organizations supported the request.


The request must now be examined by a panel of five judges.


The decision to reassess can give hope to the thousands of victims both in Belgium and abroad. VSA hopes for them that justice will finally be done.


For more information or comments, please contact:

  • Walter Van Steenbrugge: walter.vansteenbrugge@vsadvocaten.be.
  • Johan Heymans: johan.heymans@vsadvocaten.be.