News coverage of Watchtower’s child abuse controversy continues to circulate around the globe, and the latest news organisation to carry an article on the subject is the Spanish language Cronica Global.
Carrying the headline “Jehovah’s Witnesses decree that cases of child abuse be resolved internally,” the article has as its centrepiece an update to the 2017 UK Child Safegaurding policy that has been recently circulating online. The news report analyses the contents of the policy document (the first page of which is re-produced up it’s website. Full policy can be found at avoidjw.org) and points out many of the flaws that exist within the policy.
The report does contain a minor factual error; stating that the Governing Body in the UK have updated the policy, when they clearly are referring to the UK Branch instead, but this minor error does not impact the overall coverage of this issue.
An English language translation of the article has kindly been provided by our friend and JW Survey contributor Average Joe.
Jehovah’s Witnesses decree that cases of child abuse be resolved internally.
The cult avoids direct police intervention despite scandals around the world and the demands of the victims.
Jehovah’s Witnesses urge the resolving of child abuse cases internally. The cult’s leadership avoids direct police intervention despite scandals that have sprung up in congregations around the world. A new revision of their child protection policy urges the elders to report such cases, and gives them the ultimate responsibility of informing law enforcement if they deem it necessary.
According to an internal document that Crónica Global (Global Chronical) has had access to, the Governing Body of the Witnesses in the United Kingdom has reported a reform of their child protection procedures.
The aforementioned document has been sent to congregations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and will be effective in Spain in the near future.
THE ELDERS REPORT …
This update incorporates some new features. If any member of the congregation is aware of abusive behaviour, they should inform the elders (pastors). These, in turn, will bring it to the attention of the [JW] legal department.
According to the new internal instructions, the communication must be made “irrespective of the age of the victim or the alleged perpetrator at the time of the attack, or the age they are now, and whether the allegations are well founded or not.”
… AND THE GOVERNING BODY DECIDES
Once the situation has been reported, two things must happen, according to the Witnesses Governing Body. “A trained elder from the legal department will provide a context in which to act and give spiritual support to the congregation,” the document adds.
Afterwards, the elder body will launch a Scriptural investigation of the case. These investigations include controversial checks or congregational judicial committees, where the elders question the infant about the alleged abuse incident.
With this current reform, minors may give their statements without their alleged assailant being present.
THE POLICE? THAT DEPENDS
Although renewed guidelines call for the protection of minors in congregations, the updating of these procedures still falls shy as regard to police intervention.
The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses leaves it to the discretion of the elders if they want to denounce the incident to the non-religious authorities “if the minor is at risk”. Both parents of the allegedly assaulted children as well as any member of the congregation are authorised by the cult to inform the authorities.
At no point do the guidelines cite the obligation to go to the police. Nor does it detail what will happen if the Watchtower Legal Department decides that abuse has actually occurred, what the outcome of the internal investigations or judicial committees are, or whether their findings will be referred to law enforcement.
The updated guidelines for cases of child abuse within Jehovah’s Witnesses is a far cry from what the victims have requested.
In Spain’s case, the group AbusosTJ (JW Abuses), which brings together victims of aggression and their helpers, has called for an in depth reform of the protocols to avoid internal judicial committees and to ensure the comprehensive protection of children of this millennial denomination.
The group provided a telephone helpline (0034) 914 890 983 and has requested access to the secret archives of the cult held at their national headquarters in Ajalvir (Madrid). They are also preparing for further action soon.
It should be noted that the 2017 UK Child Safeguarding Policy Watchtower have made available for the public contains some statements that on the face of it may appear to show a certain amount of improvement in Watchtower’s approach to handling child abuse accusations.
An article will appear here shortly to analyse the policy and see how far these changes really go.
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