Sunday, February 19, 2017

Swiss Catholic Church commission to examine abuse victims’ cases

Up to CHF20,000 could be paid in reparations for very severe cases of abuse.After creating a victims’ fund one year ago, the Swiss Catholic Church has set up a reparations commission to formally examine abuse victims’ complaints.

The Swiss Catholic Church has set up a reparations commission which is ready to receive compensation requests from victims of paedophile priests, Joseph Bonnemain, from the Conference of Swiss Bishops, told the Swiss News Agency ATS on Tuesday.

The formal creation of the six-person commission in January to examine claims follows the establishment of a CHF500,000 ($498,000) compensation fund for victims of abuse by member of the church.

A victim who wishes to file a compensation claim must address it to their diocese or, in French-speaking Switzerland, to the independent sexual abuse commission CECAR. 

After being considered, the requests will be sent to the reparations commission.

Since the beginning of the year, this new commission has already received two letters and expects to receive several others from diocese and CECAR in the weeks to come, commission member Tünde Kvacskay said in a statement.

The amount of compensation will vary, and could range from a single payment of CHF10,000 to CHF20,000 for very serious cases of abuse. 

However, the compensation fund only covers prescribed cases which exceed the statute of limitations.

“Each time the church becomes aware of such facts, it encourages the victims to file a complaint,” Bonnemain stressed.

'Sketchy' information

According to a news report in 2015, around 20 criminal cases were opened against priests and Catholic monks for sexual abuse in Switzerland since 2010, despite the church catching 172 alleged offenders.

Many of the recorded cases date back to the 1950s and some suspects have therefore died, while others simply could not be tracked down. 

The low prosecution rate is also down to the fact that the dioceses provided “very sketchy” information, according to the report, especially for the period between 1950 and 1980.

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