Amnesty calls for inquiry into Mother & Baby Homes in Northern Ireland, as Irish inquiry announced

Amnesty International has called for an inquiry into allegations of decades of abuse suffered in Mother and Baby Homes in Northern Ireland.

The call comes after the Irish government published this morning the terms of reference for a Commission of Investigation into such Homes in the Republic.

The organisation accused Ministers in Northern Ireland of failing to respond to victims’ calls for a probe into abuse which they allege occurred in Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundry-type institutions in Northern Ireland over a period of decades.

Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan, said:

“Women in Northern Ireland have told Amnesty they suffered arbitrary detention, forced labour, ill-treatment, and the removal and forced adoption of their babies - criminal acts in both domestic and international law.

“Two years after first asking, victims in Northern Ireland still cannot get an answer from Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness on whether there will be an inquiry here.

“The Northern Ireland institutional abuse inquiry leaves out cases of abuse which took place after the age of 18, leaving these women in complete legal limbo – North and South.

“The Northern Ireland Executive must now urgently consider a separate inquiry mechanism for these cases.”

Amnesty International has identified twelve Mother and Baby Homes or Magdalene Laundry-type institutions which operated in Northern Ireland in the last century.

In May 2013, Amnesty published research into abuses in Northern Ireland’s Magdalene Laundry and Mother and Baby Home-type institutions, and supported victims’ calls for an investigation into the alleged abuse. However, despite bringing abuse victims to meet Ministers at Stormont Castle in June 2013 and again in September 2014, victims have still received no answer to their calls for an inquiry.

Two powerful United Nations committees have urged the Northern Ireland Executive to investigate the abuse allegations of systemic abuse. The UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women both published reports in 2013 which recommended that the Northern Ireland Executive should establish an inquiry into abuses in Magdalene Laundry-type institutions.

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