The difficulties in investigating historic matters even when there are records available was highlighted when the Ryan Commission (the Commission of Inquiry created to investigate historic abuse in Irish residential institutions) accepted that the figures they quoted in its final report were inaccurate. .
The Ryan Commission had previously reported that around 170,000 children had been placed in the institutions investigated by it. In a statement on the commission’s website on 25 November 2019, Mr Justice Séan Ryan, the Chair of the Commission, confirmed that the report published in 2009 contained erroneous information on the numbers cited.
In previous blogs we have highlighted the work of the Fermanagh newspaper, The Impartial Reporter, and their coverage of abuse reports in that area and the creation of a new police taskforce to re-examine older complaints and to investigate more recent reports of historic abuse in the area.
BBC Spotlight has spoken to one of those who came to the paper and Kevin Brown has waived his anonymity to speak publicly about the abuse he reported. Mr Brown says that he was abused by at least 20 different men when he was around 12 years old and for at least another three years after that. Other victims have confirmed some of the names given by Mr Brown but those victims have retained their anonymity.
On 21 November, 11 people, six women and five men were remanded on bail to appear before the Central Criminal Court in Ireland to face up to 220 charges of rape, sexual assault and neglect of children.
Their bail conditions provide that they must not contact the alleged victims either directly or indirectly, or via social media. They must also surrender their passports and not apply for new travel documents. They are required to sign on weekly at different Garda stations and notify Gardaí of any change in their address. The Court also directed that they must be available to Gardaí at all times via a charged and credited mobile telephone number.
Acting Chief Superintendent Novlett ‘Robyn’ Williams, who was praised for her work in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, had an exemplary disciplinary record and was awarded the Queen’s Policing Medal for distinguished service in 2003, was found guilty of possessing an indecent video of a child last week following her trial at the Old Bailey.
It was alleged that she failed to report her sister to the police for sending the 54 second clip which showed a five year old child engaging in a sex act with a man. The jury accepted that Williams had not acted corruptly, but they found her defence that she had not seen the footage, which was sent to her by WhatsApp in February 2018, as implausible.
She was sentenced by Judge Richard Marks QC (26/11/19), who told the Old Bailey that her grave error of judgement was likely to have immense implications for her career. She was ordered to carry out 200 hours community service.
The IOPC is carrying out an independent misconduct investigation into the actions of Supt Williams. She was appointed borough commander for Sutton in 2017 but was moved from the post and placed on restricted duties after the investigation into the indecent images was launched.
A Primark security guard has been jailed after being found guilty of the rape and sexual assault of four underage girls who were found shop lifting from the store. Zia Uddin, who worked at the chain’s Kingston upon Thames store, caught the girls shoplifting then abused his authority by telling them he would let them go without informing the police or their parents about their thefts if they performed sexual acts on him.
The Department for Education has this week published data confirming that witchcraft and black magic are increasing factors in the abuse of children, with the abuse of children on the basis of faith or belief increasing from 1,460 to 1,950 cases between 2016/2017 and 2018/2019. The Local Government Association is now calling for more resources to tackle the problem as Authorities are dealing with the equivalent of 38 cases per week.
Recent reports in the Independent and on the BBC have highlighted the plight of the Muslim Uyghur population in Xingjiang, an autonomous region in the far west of China. As part of the systemic repression of the Uygher people, many males have been separated from their families and interned in re-education camps. According to reports published on Radio Free Asia, as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s “Pair Up and Become Family” program, party workers, mostly males who are part of the Han ethnic group, have taken up temporary residence at the home of Uygher families.
This “home stay” programme was extended in early 2018 and now party workers, termed “relatives”, stay for at least five nights every two months. During these “home stays” they share their host’s bed, often with multiple occupants sharing a 2.5 metre sleeping platform. A party representative stated that a distance of one metre was maintained and that no sexual abuse had been reported, but also stated that hosts “developed feelings” for these relatives whilst their husbands were interned. This programme demonstrates the pervasiveness of the forced assimilation and surveillance of this community, which now includes the most intimate aspects of their personal lives.
Written by Louise Roden, solicitor at BLM