• Germany's news in English

Minister calls for abuse compensation

DDP/The Local · 9 Mar 2010, 08:33

Published: 09 Mar 2010 08:33 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

However, the minister's demand was in sharp contrast to remarks by Stephanie zu Guttenberg, the head of a leading child protection group and wife of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who called on the state to get tougher on abuse rather than leave it to the Church.

In the strongest intervention yet on the issue by a senior government minister, Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said compensation would be “piece of justice, even if the injustice suffered cannot be materially compensated for.”

“It needs a clear signal to the victims, for example the conversation about freely given compensation in cases in which the statute of limitations has passed,” she told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The debate follows weeks of revelations about sexual abuse in Catholic schools and other institutions.

The Church could not give the impression that it would only acknowledge cases that no longer could be contested in court because the statute of limitations – beyond which cases cannot be tried in court – had passed, she added.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has shown skepticism, however, towards calls for extending the statute of limitations to 30 years. She doubted whether courts could come to a verdict beyond reasonable doubt after such a long time.

Guttenberg, who is the German president of the anti-abuse group Innocence in Danger, said the state could not leave it to the Church alone to pursue abuse.

“Priests and clergymen are citizens of the Federeral Republic of Germany. And if a citizen here commits a crime, then that must be punished through the institutions of the state,” she told reporters at a fundraising event Monday evening.

To date the cases had been investigated within the Church and in some cases reported by the perpetrators themselves, she said, adding that sexual abuse was not confined to the clergy.

“Everyone who is involved with children has urgently to be trained” to be vigilant against suspected abuse, she said. “And I believe the problem isn’t limited to religious schools.”

She also backed Bavarian Justice Minister Beate Merk's call for an extension of the statue of limitations period for sexual abuse to 30 years.

“We’ve been recommending that for years,” said Guttenberg.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats are also open to such an idea, according to general secretary Hermann Gröhe, who said many victims were not able to confront the trauma they had suffered until many years had passed.

Story continues below…

Meanwhile, Merk, who has led calls for the extension of the statute of limitations, added to her demands that the minimum sentence for sexual abuse be raised.

“Every sexual abuse must repeatedly be branded as the crime that is was under earlier law and still is in the understanding of the public,'' she told daily Die Welt. ''That means: the minimum sentence must be raised from the present six months to one year.”

The centre-left Social Democrats general secretary, Andrea Nahles, who is herself a practising Catholic, also called on the Church to compensate victims, and directed her appeal also to secular schools such as the Odenwaldschule, which has been caught up in its own abuse scandal.

“Above all, where systematic abuse over long periods was covered up, explanations must be given so that it is not repeated,” she told Süddeutsche Zeitung. She added that a symbolic compensation “would be an appropriate offer to the victims of those times.”

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

10:07 March 9, 2010 by berlinski
I am surprised they don't ask for an increase in Church tax to pay for the compensation.
19:47 March 9, 2010 by Thames
The statute of limitaions is in exisitance because after so many years witnesses are dead, memories fade etc...

30 years is just too long ago proof or defense would be difficult.

However, there should be no question that where proven compensation should be paid.
02:52 March 10, 2010 by 1FCK_1FCK
"I am surprised they don't ask for an increase in Church tax to pay for the compensation."

Give it time, my friend.
Today's headlines
Dad who auctioned baby on eBay restricted from seeing child
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd