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The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly wants an investigation, an official apology and payment of reparations to European survivors of child abuse in the state or in religious institutions.
STRASBOURG, France, January 26, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- The Council of Europe, to which 46 States with more than 600 million citizens belong, voted today in favor of addressing cases of past abuses following the example of Switzerland . Consequently, the suffering of survivors of child abuse must be officially recognized in the Member States, those affected must receive a compensation payment - regardless of any prescription - and scientific research must be carried out in the respective countries. The Assembly calls on all member states to take stock of the situation of violence committed in public, private or religious institutions against children, in order to create appropriate conditions for victims to speak out. The innovative recommendations of the Council of Europe correspond to the demands of the European "Justice Initiative", launched by the Swiss foundation Guido Fluri.
You can't ignore the past
"Whoever ignores the cases of abuse of the past cannot effectively combat the cases of abuse of today and tomorrow," says Swiss rapporteur Pierre-Alain Fridez before the Parliament of the Council of Europe. "In Europe, we must not again ignore the abuse of minors, whether they are victims of sexual predators, gratuitous violence or mistreatment, whether in public, private or religious institutions that are supposed to be safe havens." This argument convinced the majority. Today a report on the situation in Europe with clear recommendations was approved. Like the responsible committee of the Council of Europe, which had already spoken unanimously in favor of a comprehensive re-evaluation, a clear majority in Parliament also wants cases of abuses in Europe to be re-evaluated according to the Swiss model; that the suffering of the victims is recognized throughout Europe and repaired in the respective countries. This includes abuse in private, state and church homes, abuse in foster care institutions and forced adoptions.
Reassessment based on the Swiss model
In Switzerland, a popular initiative, the "Reparation Initiative" of the Guido Fluri Foundation, led to a state law focused on the recognition of injustice, scientific reassessment, and solidarity payments. As a result, more than 12,000 survivors of child abuse have received official recognition of the injustice and a solidarity payment, and cases of abuse have been addressed by the State.
Following the success of this reparation, victims' groups and child protection organizations across Europe joined forces in the "Justice Initiative" and campaigned for a similar bill in the Council of Europe. This project once again had the support of the Guido Fluri Foundation. "The fact that the Council of Europe has decided on a comprehensive reassessment is a great moment for survivors across Europe. The European community must do everything possible to ensure that those affected by child abuse receive some form of justice in life" , says Guido Fluri.
The Council of Europe solution serves as a model
The Council of Europe requires Member States to take stock of the situation of child abuse in the institutions of our countries (Doc. 15889 - Report - Working document (coe.int). Investigations must be comprehensive and cover the physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Circumstances that allow such abuse should be assessed on a country-by-country basis and include institutional care in public, private or religious settings, inadequate care, placement in private homes, removal of children to parents considered "not "fit", forced adoptions and forced sterilizations.
Authorities must then recognize the suffering inflicted and provide appropriate care for its effects, if possible. This must be followed by a formal and official apology from the authorities to past and present victims. Finally, compensation must be granted to victims, regardless of their age: there must be official reparation for all victims, for all children who have been subjected to any form of physical, sexual or psychological violence and with no time limit for clarify the facts. Therefore, the time elapsed between the perpetration of the abuse and its disclosure by the victim cannot justify the denial of any reparation. The amount of compensation awarded must be substantial and proportional to the damage and suffering caused.
States must undertake a comprehensive program of prevention and awareness-raising measures, including the supervision of institutional care centers and any situation in which children are placed in care, in order to minimize risks and detect problems at the earliest possible.
Important decision of the Council of Europe for Spain
In Spain, Internet pornography is an obvious reality that affects our childhood and youth. Its entry into homes is not sought, it is in many cases a bombardment of which our boys and girls are involuntary victims, while they use their network access tools. It is necessary to implement measures to put a stop to this unfortunate reality, which is often hidden or silenced. According to data collected by a recent report, six out of every ten young people consume pornography through the networks, 62.5%. Therefore, this decision is important, also in Spain.
Furthermore, and as far as recognition, reparation and support are concerned and in the context of all social areas where crimes of pedophilia were committed, it is inevitable to think that measures like this at the European level and in all EU states are relevant. When implementing individualized economic reparations through an annual economic fund to compensate victims for life, because the consequences remain forever, recognition must also be individual, it is not generalized, practical obtaining of the status of victim to qualify for the rights that correspond to them, such as free therapies or measures that avoid the labor, social and student exclusion of all victims and survivors who report the crimes committed and, without a doubt, comprehensive protection for all girls and boys, some of them already adults, who They suffer continuous double victimization, stigmatization, threats, denialism and terrible attempts to question their credibility and the veracity of their testimonies.
Juan Cuatrecasas Asua, former socialist deputy in the Spanish Parliament, in the 13th and 14th legislatures, has expressed his absolute support for this regulation because it represents recognition, support and reparation for all mistreated and abused European children and adolescents. It was urgent and necessary and finally, it sees the light. Victims and survivors need recognition with the involvement of public powers and institutions, implementing measures that remove them from isolation, nullify denialism, threats and attempts to annul their credibility. Helping them means complying with human rights and international conventions and treaties.
EAJ-PNV MEP Izaskun Bilbao Barandica also supports implementing regulations that protect children and young people from the distribution of pronography. "Studies and statistics, he points out, prove the damage that the distribution and consumption of pornography at an early age is doing. Concepts about sexuality based on domination and the objectification of people become common patterns of behavior for children and young people and are behind alarming episodes of gender violence. A problem that we have to face by promoting sexual education in families and schools and putting a stop, with clear rules, strong controls and technology, to the unscrupulous behavior of the "industry" of for not".
For Eva Juez Garmendia, President of the Social Policies and Youth Commission of the Basque Parliament, the Basque Parliament recognizes the existence of Sexual Abuse against Children and Adolescents and is aware of the institutional and social vacuum that has surrounded this violence, leading to a silence imposed on the victims that has aggravated their situation. For all this, he wants to begin by recognizing the truth of what they all suffered. He deeply appreciates the work that many of the victims have had to do so that society and institutions could take care of it.
The Basque public administrations, aware of this reality thanks to the testimonies of the victims, assume the commitment to work to prevent any type of violence against Children and Adolescents and to provide comprehensive care to children and adolescents who, unfortunately, have suffered it.
In addition to handling the Council of Europe file, Justice Initiative runs centers in a dozen European countries: they run national policy campaigns based on four central pillars: truth, recognition, reparation and prevention. Among the highlights of the Justice Initiative's work last year was the delivery of more than half a million signatures in Brussels in support of new European legislation calling for greater protection against online sexual abuse.
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