Dagelijks archief: november 25, 2021

The Immunity of the Holy See in Sexual Abuse Cases – the ECtHR decides J.C. v Belgium

In multiple countries, allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have led to lawsuits against dioceses and clergy, and the establishment of investigation and claims commissions. However, because of the relatively muted response of the Holy See to the scandals, in some countries, victims have also filed tort suits in domestic courts against the Holy See directly. This has, for instance, happened in the United States, but also in Belgium. In 2011, a group of victims filed suit in the District Court of Ghent against, among other defendants, the Holy See. The victims asked the court to hold the Holy See liable in tort for its failure to take action against the abuses. The District Court and, subsequently, the Court of Appeal dismissed the claim on the ground that the Holy See enjoys immunity from suit. Claiming that their right of access to a court under Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) had been violated, the victims went on to file an application against Belgium at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). On 12 October 2021, the ECtHR rendered its judgment in the case (J.C. and others v Belgium, only available in French).

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