11/12/2012

Historical Institutional Abuse Bill Passed

A new law has been passed which gives statutory powers to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

The 'Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse Bill' gives the Inquiry Chairperson Sir Anthony Hart powers to undertake the Inquiry and to compel witnesses and evidence.

The Inquiry into Historical Abuse has been set up to investigate allegations of the abuse of children in state-run and religious institutions.

Junior Minister Jonathan Bell said: "Many people have waited a long time for an investigation and inquiry into what happened. Bearing in mind the need to guard against future abuse, the inquiry will examine if the institutions or the state failed in their duties towards children under 18 in their residential care and if failings were systemic. I hope this will give victims the opportunity to obtain the answers they have long been seeking."

Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said: "Victims were robbed of their dignity, their self respect and their childhoods. The Inquiry gives victims and survivors the opportunity to talk about their experiences and for their suffering to be acknowledged. It will make recommendations about an apology, a memorial and the requirement or desirability for redress by institutions and/or the Executive to meet the particular needs of victims."

Jon McCourt, Chairperson of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA) said: "SAVIA lobbied for this inquiry. We advised on its Terms of Reference and its development. This has been a traumatic journey for some Victims and Survivors over the last three years. We are grateful for the support we have had from OFMDFM Junior Ministers and their staff. We encourage all Victims of Historical Residential Institutional Abuse to contribute to both the Acknowledgement Forum and the formal Inquiry. Those who have already contributed by sharing the stories of their childhoods in Institutions have found it to be a positive and worthwhile experience."

(IT)

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