Northern Ireland inquiry issues U.S. appeal for evidence of child abuse
Authorities want to hear from victims now living in North America, elsewhere in world
Authorities in Northern Ireland have launched a worldwide appeal for evidence from victims of child abuse in the province.
An investigation into abuse at children’s homes in Northern Ireland is appealing for victims to come forward.
Northern Ireland’s Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry particularly wants to hear from former residents now living in North America and Australia.
The Washington Post reports that the inquiry wants victims to provide testimony so that the full scope of trauma can be documented.
The inquiry has already received abuse complaints from 271 former residents of about 35 orphanages and state-funded homes where children allegedly suffered sexual or physical harm.
The investigation is seeking evidence of abuse from 1922, the year of Northern Ireland’s foundation, to 1995.
All testimony so far has come from British and Irish residents but investigators believe many hundreds of former residents now live in the United States, Canada and Australia.
They believe Western Australia could be a venue for much testimony as hundreds of boys and girls in Northern Ireland state care were resettled there while they were still children.
Lead investigator Sir Anthony Hart has said his fact-finding team is willing to travel overseas to collect testimony or cover witnesses’ travel expenses to come to Belfast.
“The probe will respect witnesses’ right to privacy and will offer both public and closed-door options for telling their stories.
“We recognize that, for many potential witnesses, reliving their experiences will be very painful and traumatic.
“Indeed, some will not have told their closest relatives or friends about the abuse they suffered. If they now live overseas, the thought of contacting the inquiry may seem especially daunting.”
The Northern Ireland investigation follows similar work in the Republic where four state-funded investigations from 2004 to 2011 concluded that the Catholic Church engaged in systematic cover-up of child abuse by its officials for decades.
The report says that in Northern Ireland no one church was given primary responsibility for care of the young.
Complaints already received cover 19 facilities run by the government, 13 by Catholic religious orders, and three by Protestant churches or secular organizations.
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