Ireland’s unique primary education system creates a national school system that is denominational, yet state-financed. The Irish government defers managerial duties to the Catholic Church, and this deference of duties relieves Ireland from liability. As a result, students in Ireland attending primary schools historically were not guaranteed legal protection from sexual assaults committed by faculty members. On January 28, 2014, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held in O’Keeffe v. Ireland that despite Ireland’s delegation of authority to religious denominations, the State was obligated to protect students from sexual assaults. The court reasoned that the State had an obligation to guarantee Article 3 fundamental rights, because no one, especially vulnerable children in primary education, should be subject to inhuman treatment. The court also noted that such an obligation could not be absolved through the delegation of powers. This Comment examines the court’s reasoning and argues that its decision leaves unanswered the scope of interpretation in future cases of abuse.
O'Keeffe v. Ireland: The State's Obligation to Protect Children from Sexual Assault in State Schools,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.
E. Supp. 28
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