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UK's child sex abuse inquiry begins public hearings

The UK's child sex abuse inquiry begins with a look at the post-war child migration programme

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UK's child sex abuse inquiry begins public hearings

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  • Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA)
  • Set up 2014
  • Led by Professor Alexis Jay

Britain’s wide ranging inquiry into historical child sex abuse scandals has finally begun holding its first public hearings. It’s one of the largest ever undertaken in the UK and was set up in 2014 by the now-Prime Minister Theresa May when she was interior minister after a series of abuse scandals that shocked the public.

The inquiry is begining with a look at the way organisations have protected children outside the UK.
Evidence is being heard from child migration programmes.

Aswini Weerante, QC for the Child Migrants Trust:

“The international association will say that we were sent to what we can only describe as labour camps where we were starved beaten and abused in despicable ways and all ties to our family and country were severed.”

Up to 10,000 children were moved to Australia after world War Two. They were recruited by religious institutions and charities and the programme continued until the 1970s, The Inquiry will hear from a number of former child migrants who have never fully recovered from their experiences.

Witness David HiIl in Australia believes the abuse was widespread:

“I’ve put the figure at over 60 percent of the kids that went to Fairbridge were sexually abused. REPORTER ASKS: “Sixty percent?” HILL: “Sixty percent. And I think if you look at the conditions that prevailed in the other child migrant institutions I’d be staggered if the figure isn’t equally high or even higher in some of the Catholic boys homes in Western Australia.”

The inquiry (IICSA) is expected to take at least five years, is to investigate whether institutions and organisations took seriously their duty to protect children. It was set up after the death of DJ Jimmy Savile in 2011 when hundreds accused him of child abuse.

Organisations being investigated:

  • local authorities
  • the police
  • the Crown Prosecution Service
  • the Immigration Service
  • the BBC
  • the armed forces
  • schools
  • hospitals
  • children’s homes
  • churches, mosques and other religious organisations
  • charities and voluntary organisations