Law N. CCXCVII
On the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons
March 26, 2019
Pope Francis leads the opening session of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 21, 2019. At left is Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, a member of the meeting’s organizing committee. VATICAN MEDIA
THE Holy Father Francis
- having regard to the Basic Law of the Vatican City State, dated 26 November 2000;
- having regard to the Law on Sources of Law N. LXXI , dated 1 October 2008;
- having regard to the Motu Proprio «In our times», of 11 July 2013;
- having regard to Law No. VIII, containing complementary norms in criminal matters, of 11 July 2013;
- having regard to Law No. IX, concerning amendments to the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, of 11 July 2013;
- having regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, concluded in New York on November 20, 1989, ratified by the Holy See, also on behalf of and for the account of the Vatican City State, on April 20, 1990;
- having regard to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, concluded in New York on 25 May 2000, ratified by the Holy See, also on behalf of and for the account of the Vatican City State, 24 October 2001;
adopted the following
(Scope of application)
- This law applies to the offenses referred to in Title II of Law No. VIII, which contains complementary rules in criminal matters, of 11 July 2013, as well as to the offenses referred to in articles 372, 386, 389, 390 and 391 penal code , if committed to the detriment of a minor or a person treated as such.
- For the purposes of the present law, the « child» is treated as « vulnerable person ».
- Every person in a state of infirmity, of physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal liberty is vulnerable who in fact, even occasionally, limits their capacity to intend or to want or in any case to resist the offense.
(Procedures and statute of limitations)
- The offenses referred to in Article 1 may be prosecuted ex officio.
- The limitation period for the offenses referred to in Article 1 is twenty years and begins, in the case of offense to a minor, from the age of eighteen.
(Obligation to report)
- Without prejudice to the sacramental seal, the public official who, in the performance of his duties, has news or reasonable grounds to believe that a child is a victim of one of the crimes referred to in Article 1 must file a complaint without delay if the offenses are also alternatively committed:
a) in the territory of the Vatican City State;
b) to the detriment of residents or citizens of the State;
c) on the occasion of the exercise of their functions, by the public officials of the Vatican City State or by the subjects referred to in point 3 of theMotu Proprio “To our times”, of 11 July 2013.
- Unless the fact constitutes a more serious offense, the public official who omits or unduly delays the complaint referred to in the preceding paragraph shall be punished with a fine from one thousand to five thousand euros. If the offense is committed by a judicial police officer or officer, the punishment is imprisonment for up to six months.
- Without prejudice to the sacramental seal, any other person, even wholly extraneous to the facts, who is aware of behavior against a child may make a complaint.
- If the proceeding is against a cleric or a member of an institute of consecrated life or a society of apostolic life, the promoter of justice, having received the complaint, promptly informs the Ordinary or the Major Superior competent for the adoption of the measures provided for by canon law.
(General protection measures)
In criminal proceedings, the injured person:
a) is informed about the rights and services available to it, as well as, if requested, about the results of the individual phases of the procedure;
b)is informed of the adoption and termination in any capacity of provisions restrictive of personal liberty, provisional or final, imposed on the defendant;
c)directly or through the counsel, can provide evidence, solicit the completion of specific investigative activities and ask to be heard;
d)has the right to the protection of its image and private sphere, as well as the confidentiality of personal data;
e)has the right to take appropriate measures to avoid direct contact with the accused, subject to the mandatory requirements of the procedure.
(Hearing of the child)
When the child is audited:
a) the minor can be accompanied by one of his lawyers, as well as by an adult of his trust admitted by the proceeding authority;
b) the hearing of the 14-year-old minor is always conducted with the help of a psychologist and in a manner appropriate to the purpose. In the same way the judicial authority proceeds in any other case in which it deems appropriate such modalities;
c) the deposition is also documented by video recording, which must be acquired as evidence in court.
1. The promoter of justice requires the adoption, also provisionally, of the measures necessary to:
a) guarantee the safety and physical integrity of the offended person;
b) remove the suspect from the offended person or other minors;
c) preventing the repetition of crimes;
d) protect the injured person and his family from any intimidation or retaliation.
2. The promoter of justice, in the event that the legal representatives are in conflict of interest with the child, asks the single judge to appoint a special administrator who, at the expense of the State, represents his interests.
3. The promoter of justice, for the protection of the injured person:
a)ensures that investigations are carried out with priority and in respect of the dignity and physical and mental integrity of the offended person;
b) assumes without delay the deposition of the injured person;
c) directs the offended person to the Accompanying Service referred to in Article 9.
4. The promoter of justice, together with the Directorate of Security and Civil Protection Services and with the accompanying service referred to in Article 9, adopts guidelines on the procedures to be followed in judicial police activities involving minors.
When proceeding for one of the crimes referred to in article 1, the judicial authority, to protect the minor:
a) may order that proceedings be held in camera;
b) may arrange for the minor to lay in videoconference or through the use of a mirror glass together with an intercom system;
c) in cases where legal representatives are in conflict of interest with the child, appoint a special trustee who, at the expense of the State, represents their interests;
d) if the accused is a cleric or a member of an institute of consecrated life or of a society of apostolic life, he transmits, together with the sentence, a copy of the proceedings of the trial to the ordinary or the major superior competent for the adoption of the measures provided for by canon law.
(Directorate of Health and Hygiene)
- The President of the Governorate, on the proposal of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene, adopts guidelines for the protection of minors.
- The Directorate of Health and Hygiene has an accompanying service for victims of abuse. It identifies within it a qualified expert to whom the coordination of this service is entrusted, as Manager.
The accompanying service:
a) offers a listening service;
b) guarantees medical and social assistance to injured persons and their families, including emergency therapeutic and psychological assistance;
c) illustrates to the injured person his / her rights and the way to enforce them;
d) facilitates the appeal of the offended person to the judicial authority;
e) takes into account the opinion and needs of the injured party, protecting their image and privacy, as well as the confidentiality of personal data;
f) adopts guidelines for the treatment of minors who use them.
- The Accompanying Service provides children, their parents, trainers, educators and managers with adequate information on the risks of exploitation, sexual abuse and mistreatment, as well as on the means to identify and prevent such offenses.
- The Labor Office of the Apostolic See organizes, in consultation with the Accompanying Service, training programs for the staff of the Governorate concerning the risks of exploitation, sexual abuse and child abuse, as well as the means to identify and to prevent these offenses and the obligation to report.
- In the selection and hiring of the staff of the Governorate, as well as of those who collaborate voluntarily, the suitability of the candidate to interact with the minors must be ascertained.
- The Personnel Selection Commission uses the Accompanying Service to adopt guidelines and define procedures in order to ascertain the suitability of the candidates.
(Entry into force)
This law comes into force on June 1, 2019.
We command that the original of the present law, bearing the seal of the State, be deposited in the Archive of the laws of the State of Vatican City and the corresponding text is published, as well as in the Supplement of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, by posting in the courtyard of St. Damasus, at the door of the offices of the Governorate and in the post offices of the State, sending himself to anyone who is responsible for observing it and having it observed.
Vatican City, 26 March of the year 2019, VII of Our Pontificate.