Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

Committee calls for recognition of child abuse in institutions in Europe, following Swiss good practice


According to the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, the abuse of children in institutions in Europe must be recognised, whether they have been victims of sexual predators, gratuitous violence or ill-treatment in public, private or religious institutions. Ignoring such malicious acts, refusing to acknowledge the truth and the torment of victims plays a part in perpetuating the conditions that enable such totally impermissible criminal behaviour to continue to this day, the parliamentarians underlined.

Drawing on the example of good practice in Switzerland, which resulted in a public apologies to victims, the committee called for “full reparation for all violence committed against children” that truly reflects the seriousness of the damage suffered and is proportionate to this damage. It is essential that member states recognise the suffering endured, provide management of after-effects, and ensure that victims, regardless of their age, are awarded compensation for the harm done, with no time limit in relation to the period of the facts, the parliamentarians said. The rapporteur encouraged the authorities to ensure the victims’ reconstruction and to strengthen prevention so that such crimes do not happen again.

By unanimously adopting the report by Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC), the committee recommended that official and formal apologies be made to past and present victims, that perpetrators of abuse be prosecuted and sanctioned “without a statute of limitations”, that victims be compensated, and that places of remembrance of institutional mistreatment be created.

Finally, it proposed that member states take stock of the situation of violence committed in public or private institutions in order to create the conditions for victims to speak out (including as adults), while analysing the circumstances that led to such abuse: institutional care in public, private or religious settings, inadequate care, foster care in private homes, or forced adoption.