NI Redress Scheme progress accelerating

Following the passing of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill in the last hours of the parliament before the recess for the December election there has been a rapid progression in the matter.

The recommendations were made in 2017 but since then, the collapse of the NI Executive and the disruption caused by Brexit and debates about who could or could not make laws for NI, little had progressed.

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Never Again: The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission

Public hearings came to a close on 31 October at The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), which was set up to investigate human rights violations during the time of ex-President Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh was Chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council from 1994 to 1996, and then President of The Gambia from 1996 to 2017.

More than 25% of Gambians claim that they or a family member have suffered some form of human rights violation under Jammeh’s regime, with allegations ranging from arrest, detention without trial, torture, rape, brutality by agents of the state, intimidation, or wrongful dismissal from work.

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NI victims to meet Civil Service regarding Redress implementation

In 2017 Sir Anthony Hart completed his report following several years of evidence into residential homes and the systemic failings identified in the management and control of those homes.  The NI Executive collapsed over differences between parties and has not been restored for almost three years now.

Campaigners feared the legislation needed to implement the Redress Scheme and appointment of a Commissioner to represent their interests would fail as a result of the turmoil created by Brexit and the calling of the election on 12 December but in almost unprecedented scenes the Bill passed and received Royal Assent just before the Parliament was dissolved.

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Police constable jailed after targeting vulnerable domestic abuse victim

PC Jarrett Kinson from Staffordshire Police was sentenced to a term of eight months imprisonment after he admitted corrupt and improper exercise of police privileges.

The officer targeted a vulnerable woman by contacting and sending her explicit images on social media after she had reported domestic abuse.

He admitted a charge of corruption through abuse of his authority as a police constable.

The Deputy Chief Constable, Nick Baker of Staffordshire Police said:

‘Abuse of position for sexual gain by police officers or staff in any guise is never acceptable as it causes harm or distress to the very people we should be protecting and keeping safe.’ 

The officer remains suspended from his role with the police and will face internal disciplinary proceedings.

Goldstein_D-12_print Written by Diana Goldstein, associate at BLM

Will Spain’s rape laws be reconsidered?

Protestors have taken to the streets in Spain in their thousands this week, to decry the recent decision of a Barcelona court to acquit five men of raping a 14-year-old girl in October 2016.

The men, referred to in Spanish media as Manada de Manresa (Manresa Wolf Pack), were said to have taken it in turns to rape the complainant at a party in an abandoned factory. They were initially accused of sexual abuse, but prosecutors had sought to change the charges to sexual assault. Under Spanish criminal law, sexual assault is the most serious sexual crime, and encompasses rape and other penetrative assaults.

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HIAI Bill passes through Parliament before election Purdah

The Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill passed through the Commons yesterday before Parliament was dissolved in preparation for the December elections.  This paves the way for the creation of a Redress Panel and the appointment of a Commissioner for Victims of residential Institutional abuse as recommended by Sir Anthony Hart in 2017.

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IICSA announces final investigation

The final investigation to be undertaken by IICSA has been announced. This is a thematic investigation which will consider Effective Leadership of Child Protection.

This investigation is intended to cover the following:

  • Ensuring organisations are safe, and effective at being safe
  • Achieving openness, transparency and good communication
  • Ensuring good communication, escalation of issues and concerns with clear lines of accountability, and good leadership in scenarios where there is no direct line management structure
  • Using management and audit information to understand the institution, its systems and its performance, so that systemic warning signs can be identified early
  • Responding appropriately to internal and external pressure, for example from politicians, community leaders, parents, funders and other key stakeholders so that child welfare and protection is prioritised
  • Responding to the evidence of “whistleblowers” and recommendations from inspectorates, Serious Case Reviews and similar reports
  • Learning from past institutional failures, including adverse events, including embedding a ‘learning’ not a ‘blaming’ culture

As can be seen from the matters noted above it is wide ranging and likely to be seeking contributions from a wide range of organisations which are involved in safeguarding practices now. However the Inquiry is also seeking contributions on these topics from organisations which do not have responsibility for children but can evidence good leadership practices.

Any organisation or individual seeking to contribute to this investigation as a Core Participant must by 13 December 2019 submit an application to be granted Core Participant status.

As noted above this is described as being the final investigation. It is not surprising that IICSA is seeking to draw its work to a conclusion with the aim of providing its final report in a timely manner. Hearings are expected to conclude by the end of 2020 suggesting a final report in 2021, slightly later than initially planned. However for an Inquiry with such a wide remit to include all state and non-state organisations it is a little surprising that there has been no investigation focused on youth organisations nor anything in the health sector. Victims and survivors of abuse in those settings may feel that there has not been proper regard to the abuse they suffered.


Written by Paula Jefferson, partner and head of abuse and neglect at BLM