Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Friday called on Pope Francis and sought his support for a new legally binding international law against growing digital and online forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse cases.
The Pope has appointed an officer from the Vatican to coordinate with Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation to combat the menace, Satyarthi said.
“Grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis for extending his full support to my demand for a legally binding global UN Convention against online child sexual abuse backed by a Global Task Force and dedicated international toll-free helpline to provide holistic support to victims,” he said.
The extraterritorial jurisdiction for the proposed law is absolutely essential as online crimes transcend across borders, Satyarthi said during his meeting with the head of the Catholic church here.
The Nobel laureate is meeting all stakeholders irrespective of caste, creed, religion, ethnicity, political affinity and nationality to garner support for the movement.
Satyarthi, who has been demanding for a new convention, has written to all the heads of states.
This request has also been submitted to the UN Secretary General and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries.
The meeting between Satyarthi and the Pope took place in the backdrop of him summoning the Presidents of Catholic Bishops worldwide to the Vatican in February 2019 to discuss ways to protect children and prevent sexual abuse by priests.
The Pope’s response was that the meeting would definitely be a “practical meeting and come out with practical solutions”, Satyarthi quoted the Pope as saying.
Satyarthi also sought the support of the Pope for his ongoing global efforts to end child trafficking, slavery and all forms of violence against children to ensure peace, freedom, safety, health and education for them.
After the meeting, Satyarthi said Pope listened to him “very, very carefully” and immediately responded that it is very important and he will fully back and endorse and support all these suggestions.
“Pope was very supportive,” he told PTI over phone.
“I fully endorse and support and back it because this is a very serious problem and it should stop,” Pope was quoted as saying Satyarthi.
He thanked the Pope for all the efforts being made against rampant child sexual abuse in the Church and other associated institutions and expressed hope that a clear roadmap for preventing child sexual abuse by priests emerges out of the global meeting of the Presidents of Catholic Bishops.
“We must ensure that sexual abuse and exploitation of our most vulnerable children is never repeated,” Satyarthi added.
He also called for a dedicated international toll-free helpline for reporting cases related to online child sexual abuse under the supervision of International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) or any other relevant agency.