Dutch sex crime panel urges collective payment of damages
A Dutch panel investigating alleged sex crimes by members of the country's Roman Catholic clergy said Thursday victims seeking compensation should be paid collective reparations.
"In the interest of plaintiffs who seek punitive damages and compensation ... the Dutch Catholic Church may offer collective reparations," a panel statement said.
Such financial compensation should be awarded even if the offence falls under the statute of limitations, said the panel which was set up by the Dutch Church. It published a first report on the issue, more than three months after launching its investigation, on Thursday.
The Church is looking into 1,975 cases, panel spokesman Gert Jan Verhoog said.
The panel which has been working under former Dutch education minister Wim Deetman also called for a sweeping overhaul of a consultative episcopal committee, called Assistance and Law, created in 1995 to help sex crime victims.
The statement said the bishops' committee had been "overwhelmed" by 1,800 tip-offs it has received so far this year.
"Its leaders are responsible, they were aware of the seriousness of the situation, their reaction was hardly adequate and they failed their duty," said the panel in a blistering comment.
The investigation had been requested by the Dutch bishops' conference and other leading Church figures.
The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by paedophilia scandals and cover-ups in a number of countries in recent years, among them the United States, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Australia, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium.
© 2010 AFP