Vatican State cannot be sued for abuse in European Courts as it is a sovereign state

The Vatican cannot be sued in European Courts because it is a sovereign state and enjoys immunity. This emerged from a decision by the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday when it denied a case instituted by victims of abuse by Catholic clergy.

This is the first case that the European Court has had to tackle involving the Vatican State. A group of 24 persons from Belgium, France and Germany tried to sue the Holy See and Catholic Church leaders in the Belgian courts in 2011.

The victims alleged they had been abused by priests when they were still children. They instituted a case in the Belgian courts before going to the European courts in 2017. In 2011 they had asked for 10,000 euro in compensation for each victim. In 2013 the Belgian Court denied the request on the grounds that the Vatican is a sovereign state and cannot be sued.

The European Court of Human Rights confirmed this decision, stating that European Courts do not have jurisdiction over the Vatican.

In a reaction, Pope Francis had stated he was upset and ashamed at the way the Catholic Church has not managed to address child sexual abuses in France.