Law N. CCXCVII on the Protection of Minors and of
Vulnerable Persons of Vatican City State
March 26, 2019
The Holy Father Francis
- given the Fundamental Law of Vatican City State of November 26, 2000;
- given the Law on the Sources of the Law LXXI, of October 1, 2008;
- given the Motu Proprio “In Our Times,” of July 11, 2013;
- given Law N. VIII regarding complementary norms in criminal matter, of July 11, 2013;
- given Law N. IX, regarding modifications to the criminal code and to the code of criminal procedure, of July 11, 2013;
- given the Convention on the Rights of the Child, concluded at New York on November 20, 1989, ratified by the Holy See, also in the name and for the account of Vatican City State, in April 20, 1990;
- given the Optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, concluded at New York on May 25, 2000, ratified by the Holy See, also in the name and for the account of Vatican City State on October 24, 2001;
Has adopted the following
- The present law is applies to offenses referred to in Title II of the Law N. VIII, regarding complementary norms in criminal matters and, from July 11, 2013, as well as offenses referred to in Articles 372, 386, 389, 390 and 391 of the Criminal Code, whenever committed in harm to a minor or to an individual equated to it.
- For the ends of the present law, equated to the “minor” is a” vulnerable person.”
- Vulnerable is every person in a state of infirmity, or physical or psychic deficiency, or deprived of personal freedom that in fact, also occasionally, is limited in the capacity to understand or to will or, in ay case, to resist an offense.
(Admissibility and Limitation Periods)
- The offenses referred to in Article 1 are prosecuted ex officio.
- The limitation periods of offenses referred to in Article 1 is of twenty years and takes place, in the case of offense to a minor, on his 18th birthday.
(Obligation to report a crime)
- Except for the sacramental seal, the public official, who in the exercise of his functions has information or well-founded motives to hold that a minor is a victim of one of the offenses referred to in Article 1, must report without delay, whatever offenses were also committed alternatively:
- in the territory of Vatican City State;
- in detriment to the residents or the citizens of the State;
- on the occasion of the exercise of their functions, by public officials of Vatican City State or by individuals referred to in point 3 of the Motu Proprio “In Our Times,” of July 11, 2013.
- Unless the fact constitutes a more serious offense, the public official of Vatican City State, who omits or unduly delays the complaint referred to in the previous paragraph, is punished with a fine of one thousand to five thousand euros. If the fact is committed by an agent or official of the judiciary police, the punishment is a six-month imprisonment.
- Except for the sacramental seal, any other person can present the complaint, including one totally foreign to the facts, who is aware of behavior in harm of a minor.
- If the charge is against a cleric or a member of an Institute of Consecrated Life or of a Society of Apostolic Life, the Promoter of Justice, having received the complaint, must inform promptly the competent Ordinary or the Major Superior for the adoption of measures provided by Canon Law.
(General Protection Measures)
In the criminal proceedings, the victim:
a) is informed about his rights and the services at his disposition, as well as if a request is made on the individual phases of the outcome of the procedure;
b) is informed of the adoption and of the cessation of any restrictive measures of personal, provisional or definitive freedom decided against the accused;
c) can furnish proofs, request the fulfilment of specific investigative activities directly or through a defender and request to be heard;
d) has the right to the protection of his image and private sphere, as well as the reservation of personal data;
e) has the right to adopt appropriate measures to avoid contact with the accused, except the mandatory demands of the process.
(Audition of the Minor)
When one proceeds to the audition of a minor:
- the minor can be accompanied by his lawyer, as well as well as an adult that he trusts admitted by acting authority;
- the audition of a minor under fourteen is always conducted with the help of a psychologist and in keeping with appropriate ways for the purpose. The Judiciary Authority proceeds in the same way in any other case in which he considers is appropriate to do so in such a way;
- the deposition is also documented through video-recording, which must be acquired as proof in court.
- The Promoter of Justice requires the adoption, also provisionally, of necessary measures To:
- guarantee the safety and physical integrity of the victim;
- remove the suspect from the victim and from other minors;
- prevent the reiteration of the offenses;
- protect the victim and his family from any intimidation or retaliation.
- The Promoter of Justice, in the case in which the legal representatives are in conflict of interests with the minor, asks the one judge to appoint a special curator that, at the expense of the State, represent his interests.
- To protect the victim, the Promoter of Justice:
- ensures that the investigations are carried out with a priority character and in respect of the dignity and the physical and psychic integrity of the victim;
- assumes without delay the deposition of the victim;
- directs the victim to the Service of Accompaniment referred to in Article 9.
- The Promoter of Justice, in concert with the Office of Security Services and Civil Protection and with the Service of Accompaniment, referred to in Article 9, adopts guidelines on the way to follow the judiciary police activities that involve minors.
When proceeding for one of the crimes referred to in Article 1, to protect the minor, the Judiciary Authority:
- can order to proceed in camera;
- can allow the minor to give <evidence> in a video-conference or through the use of a mirror glass together with an intercom system;
- in cases in which the legal representatives are in conflict of interests with the minor, he appoints a special curator that, at the expense of the State, represents his interests;
- when the accused is a cleric or member of an Institute of Consecrated Life or a Society of Apostolic Life, can transmit, together with the sentence, a copy of the acts of the process to the competent Ordinary or to the Major Superior for the adoption of measures provided by Canon Law.
(Health and Hygiene Office)
1. The President of the Governorate, his proposal of the Health and Hygiene Office, adopts guidelines for the protection of minors.
2. The Health and Hygiene Office has a Service of Accompaniment for the victims of abuses. It has within it a qualified expert to whom to entrust, in the quality of Responsible, the coordination of such service.
(Service of Accompaniment)
The Service of Accompaniment:
- offers a service of listening;
- guarantees medical and social assistance to victims and their families, including urgent therapeutic and psychological assistance.
- Explains to the victim his rights and the way to enforce them;
- d )facilitates the victim’s appeal to the Judiciary Authority;
- takes into account the opinion and needs of the victim, protecting his image and private sphere, as well as the reservation of personal data;
- adopts guidelines for the treatment of minors that take recourse to him.
1. The Service of Accompaniment offers minors, their parents, formators, educators and those responsible appropriate information on the risks in matters of exploitation, sexual abuse, and mistreatment, as well as on useful means to identify and prevent such offenses.
2. The Labour Office of the Apostolic See organizes, in concert with the Service of Accompaniment, programs of formation for the personnel of the Governorate about the risk in the matter of exploitation, of sexual abuse and of mistreatment of minors, as well as means to identify and prevent these offenses and on the obligation to report a crime.
Article 11-(Recruitment of Personnel)
- In the selection and assumption of the Governorate’s personnel, as well as of those that collaborate in a voluntary way, the suitability of the candidate must be ascertained to interact with minors.
- The Commission for the Selection of Personnel makes use of the Service of Accompaniment to adopt guidelines and define procedures for the purpose of ascertaining the suitability of the candidates.
(Coming into force)
The present 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 Vatican City State and the corresponding text be published, in addition to the Supplement of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, through posting in Saint Damasus’ courtyard, on the door of offices of the Governorate and in the State’s post offices, ordering whoever is responsible to observe it and have it observed.
Vatican City, March 26 of the year 2019, 7th of the Pontificate.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]