The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on Tuesday rejected 24 plaintiffs who had already tried before Belgian courts to sue the Vatican for acts of pedophilia committed by priests.
The ECtHR invoked in particular “immunity” from the Vatican recognized by the “principles of international law”, thus giving reason to the Belgian justice, which had rejected the plaintiffs of Belgian, French and Dutch nationality and invoked immunity from the jurisdiction of the Vatican.
“The court finds that the rejection (…) did not deviate from the principles of international law generally recognized in matters of State immunity” and which apply to the Vatican, states the ECtHR in a statement.
It thus concludes that there was no violation of the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights on the “right of access to a court” invoked by the applicants, who claimed to have been prevented from filing their complaints. against the Vatican.
According to the statement, the applicants tried, in 2011 in Belgium, to file a class civil action against the Vatican, leaders of the Catholic Church in the country and Catholic associations, demanding compensation for “damage caused by the structurally deficient way in which the Church would have faced the problem of sexual abuse in your bosom”.
Noting that the Vatican “has characteristics comparable to those of a State”, European judges consider that the Belgian justice had the right to “deduct” in this sense.
“The total failure of the plaintiffs’ action results in reality” of bad “procedural choices” that “did not change” during the process “to specify and individualize the facts that substantiated their actions”, concludes the court.