Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Child abuse inquiry hears testimony of survivors who were shipped to the colonies

"The UK national child abuse inquiry has been urged at the opening of its public evidence sessions to name and shame the perpetrators of the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of British children forcibly deported to Australia by the UK government and leading churches and charities."

"David Hill, one of more than 4,000 children who were sent to Australia and other Commonwealth nations from 1947 to the 1970s, waived his anonymity at the opening of the independent inquiry on Monday to make an emotional call for justice for victims..."

"The national child abuse inquiry is hearing testimony from people who were shipped as children to Australia. Some children sent to former colonies between the 1920s and 1970s faced servitude, hard labour and abuse."

"Hill is one of 22 former child migrants who will give evidence at the hearing. Many will testify of the extreme sexual and physical abuse they experienced when they were sent to Australia as part of the child migrant programme..."

"Henrietta Hill, QC, counsel to the inquiry, said it was the first time the sexual abuse of the former child migrants had been investigated in a public forum in the UK."

"She said the focus of the investigation was from 1947 onwards when more than 4,000 children were sent to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and southern Rhodesia."

"There were many reasons for child migration, she said. It was carried out by the British government and leading churches and charities including Barnardo’s, the Church of England Children’s Society, Cornwall county council and the Sisters of Nazareth. But it was not without its critics at the time and the inquiry heard that in 1956 a blacklist of institutions was drawn up by the British government after evidence of sexual and physical abuse came to light. It was not acted upon following political pressure from many of the charities and agencies involved."

"The QC said cutting the cost to the taxpayer of looking after deprived children and providing white Anglo-Saxon labour for the colonies was one reason for the programme. Between the mid-19th century and the 1970s, more than 100,000 children were sent to the colonies."

"They were taken from their parents, foster families and children’s homes, put on to ships and not told what was happening..."

"The inquiry has divided its work up into 13 separate investigations. They are: children outside the UK; accountability and reparations: Rochdale and any links to the former Liberal MP Cyril Smith; children in custodial institutions; child sexual exploitation networks; Lambeth council; Lord Janner; Nottinghamshire councils; residential schools; the Anglican church; the Catholic church; and Westminster including any involvement by politicians. More strands may be identified in future..."

"The next full public hearing is expected to relate to the Rochdale investigation in October, followed by an examination of the English Benedictine Congregation, part of the Catholic investigation, in December."

"Other public hearings already scheduled will examine online sexual abuse, due in January next year, and the diocese of Chichester, in March 2018, as part of the Anglican church investigation."

"The IICSA is due to produce an interim report on its progress the following month, in April 2018.

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