Geneva: The Vatican has failed to send the United Nations a report on child rights that is now almost 13 years overdue, the head of a UN panel has said.
Like all countries that have signed the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Vatican is required to submit regular reports on its efforts to safeguard child rights.
But the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, despite sending repeated reminders, has received no explanation from the Holy See for why it missed a 1997 deadline, according to the committee`s chairwoman Yanghee Lee.
In the years since, the Vatican has come under intense scrutiny over its handling of child sex abuse allegations around the world and recently admitted that up to one in 20 priests may be implicated.
"I`ve made contact with the Holy See on several occasions," Lee said in a recent telephone interview. "I haven`t received anything."
Officials at the Vatican`s mission in Geneva declined comment yesterday, saying the Catholic city state`s envoy to the UN, Silvano Tomasi, was unavailable.
Tomasi refused to discuss the report last month, saying he was "only the messenger”, not the author of the report.
A Vatican representative told the UN last year that the report was being "finalised as we speak”.
Appearing before the UN`s Human Rights Council in September, Hubertus Matheus Van Megen said "a paragraph will be dedicated to the problem of child abuse by Catholic clergy”.
The Vatican has faced claims that it has covered up clerical sex abuse around the world, such as by not investigating allegations or transferring accused priests to other duties without punishing them.
Van Megen told the Geneva-based council that the church was "very conscious of the seriousness of the problem" but insisted critics had misrepresented the situation.
"While many speak of child abuse as paedophilia, it would be more correct to speak of ephebophilia, being a homosexual attraction to adolescent males," he told the rights council.