Amnesty responds to Junior Ministers' comments on child abuse inquiry

Responding to public comments made by Northern Ireland Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Martina Anderson, Tim Hancock, Campaigns Director, Amnesty International UK, said:

“Amnesty International has a professional duty to question the shortcomings of the proposed inquiry into systemic child abuse in Northern Ireland, as announced by the Executive last week.

“Amnesty has supported victims’ calls for a State-led investigation into the abuse over the past years and welcomed much of the announcement about the plans.

“However, Amnesty also highlighted some of the inadequacies of the Executive’s proposals, including criticising the fact that the non-statutory inquiry lacked the power to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of records, that the arbitrary time limitation placed on the inquiry meant it might not have the capacity to carry out investigations in full, that the Executive had not committed to finding the money to make financial payments to the victims themselves, and the fact that effective scrutiny of allegations from victims of abuse that took place prior to 1945, was excluded from its scope.

“Junior ministers have made comments about the stress endured by victims who were contacted by lobby groups. Amnesty does not recognise any of the substance of the allegations and is concerned that this might be an attempt to deflect criticisms of the limitations of the Executive’s proposals.

“Amnesty International has consistently worked with and on behalf of victims and has an obligation to hold ministers to account when proposals fall short of what is fitting in this very serious review of how the victims of horrific abuse were failed."

  • Yesterday, Thursday 6 October 2011, Amnesty International published a detailed critique of the Executive decision on addressing institutional child abuse on The Detail website:  read Reflections on Northern Ireland's child abuse inquiry

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