Amnesty International Names Vatican in 2011 Report on Human Rights Violations

Statements of Jeff Anderson and Marci Hamilton

Jeff Anderson:  “The news that Amnesty International’s 2011 Annual Report on Human Rights Abuses names the Vatican because of its failure to protect children from sexual abuse is further evidence that the international community is now coming to the aid of child sex abuse victims everywhere. I applaud Amnesty International for its courage in making this historic decision, its dedication to human rights, and its extraordinary effort to protect children. It is also important to note that the Vatican has recently announced that it will be issuing new guidelines for the handling of child sex abuse by bishops.  It does not appear, however, that it will be establishing mandatory rules that will protect children, like mandatory reporting of all allegations of abuse to the authorities. Children, therefore, remain at risk in the largest religious organization in the world, which is why Amnesty International, the United Nations and the courts of the world, will have to be the protectors of the children at risk of sexual abuse.”

Marci Hamilton:  “In light of this most deserving attention to an egregious international problem, the Vatican is surely on notice that it cannot keep its secrets about child sex abuse anymore.  Clearly, the Vatican cannot escape the fact that the world understands how it has harmed children repeatedly.  Additionally, this report will be helpful in the lawsuits filed against the Holy See because it corroborates the experiences of the victims and supports the cases’ legal theories.”

Excerpt from Amnesty International Report

“Increasing evidence of widespread child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy over the past decades, and of the enduring failure of the Catholic Church to address these crimes properly, continued to emerge in various countries. Such failures included not removing alleged perpetrators from their posts pending proper investigations, not co-operating with judicial authorities to bring them to justice and not ensuring proper reparation to victims.”


Attorneys Jeff Anderson, Marci Hamilton, and Michael Finnegan represent Oregon, Wisconsin, and Illinois victims of the Vatican’s cover-up policies in pending federal lawsuits against the Vatican.  The Vatican has tried to avoid liability for its actions by arguing that it has sovereign immunity.  Federal law, however, does not provide immunity to foreign sovereigns when they commit torts against Americans or when they engage in commercial activity that harms Americans.  The Amnesty Report supports their claims.


Attorney Jeff Anderson, Attorney for the Plaintiff in John V. Doe versus Holy See, is an internationally known St. Paul, Minnesota-based trial lawyer widely recognized as a pioneer in sexual abuse litigation and has earned a reputation as a tireless champion of civil rights for children and the under-privileged. One of the first trial lawyers in America to publicly and aggressively initiate suits against religious organizations and hold them responsible by utilizing the American civil justice system, Anderson has represented thousands of survivors of sexual abuse by authority
figures and clergy.

Attorney and Professor Marci Hamilton is one of the United States’ leading church/state legal scholars, an expert on child sex abuse statutes of
limitations, and a leading advocate for children.  She resides in Bucks County.  Hamilton has represented clergy sex abuse victims before the Wisconsin, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Illinois Supreme Courts, and in the Portland, Spokane, San Diego, and Milwaukee diocesan bankruptcies.  She briefed and argued the John V. Doe v. Holy See case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and briefed the issues before the United States Supreme Court.  Her column on church-state issues appears weekly at, and her website  tracks the nationwide movement to eliminate the statutes of limitations for child sex abuse.  She was an independent consultant to District Attorney Lynne Abraham for the 2005 Grand Jury Report on clergy abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Professor Hamilton holds the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, and is the author of God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press 2005), and Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge 2008).  She clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the United States Supreme Court.