IICSA publishes investigation report into the Roman Catholic Church

This week IICSA published its investigation report into the Roman Catholic Church (the Church). The report aims to examine the extent of institutional failings by the Church in England and Wales to protect children from child sexual abuse and examine the Church’s current safeguarding regime. The report draws on evidence from the Inquiry’s three case studies and the final public hearing held in October and November 2019.

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IICSA summary of victims and survivors views on redress

On 14 October, IICSA published a summary of victims and survivors’ views on redress.

The Victims and Survivors Forum (the Forum) is open to all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. It was set up to facilitate IICSA’s engagement with victims and survivors, making it easier to ask questions, offer suggestions, and for IICSA to gather the views of victims and survivors.

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Specialist training across Justice sector to better support victims in sexual violence cases announced by Irish Minister for Justice

Readers of this blog will be aware that in an earlier post published on 10 August, 2020 we commented on the publication of the Review of the Protection of Vulnerable Witnesses in the Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Offences (which has been chaired by Professor Tom O’Malley BL) by the Irish Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD.

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Further Scottish Parliamentary evidence session on in-care redress bill

On 4 November 2020, the Education and Skills Committee of the Scottish Parliament took evidence on the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill from CrossReach (a Church of Scotland charity), Quarriers (a social care charity), the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA, representing Scotland’s 32 local councils). The committee then heard from the Scottish Government Minister in charge of the Bill, John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and Deputy First Minister.       

Money was a recurring theme throughout the three hour session, both in terms of contributions sought by Scottish Government to the scheme and the proposed banding of redress payments.

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First trial of its kind to be held in the Vatican as abuse alleged to have taken place within its walls

A trial opened last month in the Vatican’s criminal tribunal for two priests – one accused of sexually abusing an altar boy in the Vatican’s youth seminary and the other accused of covering it up.  The trial is the first of its kind to be held within the Vatican.

The Vatican tribunal is comprised of a president and four judges who are chosen from university professors and jurists, with proven experience in civil, criminal or administrative matters.

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Irish High Court quashes decision relating to historic child sex abuse allegations

On 19 October Mr Justice Simmons in the Irish High Court handed down judgment in the matter of J (A person subject to an allegation of abuse) and The Child and Family Agency [2020] IEHC 464 and in so doing quashed a decision by TUSLA, the Irish Child and Family Agency (CFA), which had arrived at a “provisional conclusion” that J (the alleged abuser as he is described in the judgment) had engaged in sexual acts with a child (the complainant as he is described in the judgment) in the CFA’s review of historic allegations of child sexual abuse that the complainant had made to the CFA in December 2013. Under the provisions of the Child Care Act 1991 (as amended) the CFA must inquire into complaints of child sexual abuse, including historical abuse.

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Update on the Australian National Redress Scheme

In its most recent newsletter on 21 October the Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS) advised that the Australian’s Government’s commitment to constantly striving to improve the NRS for survivors and victims is evidenced by its announcement that in the 2020-21 Budget, a further AUS$104.6 million will be invested in the NRS. This will be used to improve and stabilise the operation of the NRS and better support survivors and victims to ensure the NRS meets its expectations.

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Northern Ireland Justice Minister to strengthen sexual exploitation of children laws

The Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long has announced that she intends to strengthen the existing law to provide more comprehensive protection for children from sexual exploitation and to specifically ban the offence of “upskirting”.

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Northern Ireland Executive appoints permanent Commissioner for Victims of Institutional Childhood Abuse

In addition to establishing the HIA Redress Board, the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019 (the 2019 Act) also somewhat uniquely provided for the establishment of a permanent Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse.

Section 22 of the 2019 Act states that the principal aim of the Commissioner “…is to promote the interests of any person who suffered abuse while a child and while resident in an institution at some time between 1922 and 1995.”

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