GENEVA -- A United Nations committee says the Vatican has effective worldwide control over bishops and priests who must comply with a U.N. anti-torture treaty, a finding that could expose the Catholic Church to new lawsuits by victims of clerical sex abuse.
The U.N. Committee Against Torture has repeatedly ruled that rape and sexual violence can be considered torture cases, which in much of the world don't carry statutes of limitations.
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The panel of 10 independent experts said Friday the Holy See must ensure that the treaty isn't violated by its officials and others "in any situation in which they exercise jurisdiction or effective control."
It says Vatican officials have failed to report abuse charges properly, moved priests rather than disciplined them, and failed to pay adequate compensation to victims.