PM urged to create UK-wide judicial inquiry into British child trafficking

Press Statement from International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families – 1st September 2014

An international organisation representing thousands of British child migrants, who were ‘trafficked’ overseas, has called on David Cameron to launch a full judicial inquiry into the ‘largest child abuse scandal in the history of the UK’.

The calls from The International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families come as the oral hearings in the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland recommence today (Monday 1st September 2014).

The inquiry, being held in Banbridge Co Down, will be focusing on the transport of children from Northern Ireland to Australia. It will hear evidence that some children were taken across borders from the Irish Republic and trafficked from Northern Ireland without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

The International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families has now called on the UK Government to launch a UK-wide judicial inquiry to learn why several thousand children were taken from institutions across the UK during the post-war period and sent to face abuse in Australia.

A Royal Commission in Australia heard evidence earlier this year against the Christian Brothers who ran the Bindoon, Castledare, Clontarf and Tardun orphanages, in Western Australia, where hundreds of British children suffered physical and sexual abuse after being trafficked from the UK. 

The Times newspaper reported in June this year how British children were allegedly abused in institutions in England before being ‘selected’ and forcibly migrated to Australia where the abuse continued.

In 1997 The Health Select Committee held an inquiry into the Welfare of Former British Child Migrants.   The Chair of that committee at that time, ex-MP David Hinchliffe, told the Times in June 2014 that the committee was ill-prepared for what it was to learn about the migration of thousands of children between the 1940s and the 1970s.

He told the Times: “Although our efforts were, I hope, well-motivated, we were grossly under-resourced and ill-prepared for the circumstances we uncovered.” 

A fellow committee member, the late Audrey Wise MP, described the experience of many British child migrants as ‘War crimes without the war.’

Norman Johnston, president of the International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families, said a UK-wide judicial inquiry is now needed.

Mr Johnston said: “Following the inquiries in Australia and now Northern Ireland, it is time for the British Government to look properly at what we believe is the largest child abuse scandal in the history of the UK.  We need answers as to how these schemes were approved, who gave authority for these children, many with families in the UK, so that they could be taken out of the UK to face abuse in Australia.  A UK-wide inquiry needs to urgently investigate the allegations of abuse in UK institutions and the claims that these children were selected for trafficking to face further abuse in Australia.
Was this nothing more than an international paedophile ring?
Four years ago the British Government formally apologized, yet many questions remain.  When the Home Secretary said of Hillsborough: ‘after truth must come justice and after the apology, accountability;’ why does that principle not apply to child migration?"


From 1947, child migrants as young as three were shipped to Australia from Britain into abusive, substandard institutions described as more like concentration camps than children's homes.  Although inspections by a UK Government committee blacklisted many Australian institutions in 1956, children continued to be deported and abused in these institutions up until 1970 when the trafficking ended.
-ENDS-

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IAFCM&F Press Statement - 8th May 2014

In the light of evidence given to the Royal Commission Public hearings in Perth and the media reports re the Christian Brothers’ offer to renegotiate compensation settlements, we make the following points:

  • No more arbitrary payments for the most horrendous crimes against children – crimes against humanity.
  • An independent government body should take the lead in any retrospective injury payments.
  • The Order of the Christian Brothers should be disbanded and their assets seized and distributed.
  • No more ‘Professional Standards’ or ‘Towards Healing’ 
     

Norman Johnston from the International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families said:  "We were deported to a prolific, predatory group of paedophiles with a long history of abusing young, vulnerable boys. We have moved beyond cover-ups and abusers setting the tariff behind closed doors.”


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CHILD MIGRANTS TESTIMONY TO REVEAL ABUSE IN UK AND AUSTRALIA

Historic testimony will be given tomorrow (Monday 28th April 2014) as former child migrants give public evidence for the first time to The Royal Commission public hearing in Perth, detailing the sexual abuse they and many hundreds of others suffered in both the UK and in Australia.

The Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse will hear claims that many children were abused in the UK before being ‘chosen’ to be trafficked to Australia to suffer at the hands of the Christian Brothers in WA.

The Commission is investigating the allegations against the Christian Brothers who ran the Bindoon, Castledare, Clontarf and Tardun orphanages and the response of Western Australian State authorities to allegations of child sexual abuse at the institutions.

From 0800 on Monday 28th April 2014 many former child migrants will gather outside the hearing in Perth in a dignified silence in support of those giving evidence and to recall the brutality and cruelty many of them suffered on their arrival in Australia.

Their messages on the banners will include the following:
• Trafficked for the Purpose of sexual abuse.
• Global child abuse by organised paedophiles
• Sent from one perpetrator to another!
• Child sexual assault in Australia is only half the story
• Many child migrants abused in UK institutions.
• British Judicial Inquiry needed now!
• Today, after 60 years, the Royal Commission breaks the Conspiracy of Silence.

Norman Johnston, of the International Association of former child migrants said:
“Monday will be a momentous day. For the first time the public both in this country and in the UK will hear the horror that child migrants suffered. We want the Royal Commission to consider whether this was nothing more than an international paedophile ring in cassocks. Choosing its victims in the UK and trafficking them to suffer the most appalling brutalities on the other side of the world.  We hope the evidence given will finally bring David Cameron to his senses and he sets up the judicial inquiry off the back of these revelations.”

From 1947, child migrants as young as three were shipped to Australia from Britain into?abusive, substandard institutions described as more like concentration camps than children's homes.  Although inspections by a UK Government committee blacklisted many Australian institutions including Castledare and Bindoon in 1956, children continued to be deported and abused in these institutions up until 1970 when the trafficking ended.

Time limitation has prevented legal action against the Christian Brothers and only a fraction of the perpetrators have ever been charged.

It is believed that during the post-war period about 3,300 children were shipped to Australia.  Governments have not been able to provide more precise statistics.

The Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse is looking at child sex abuse in Australia, including investigations into religious organisations, state care facilities, schools, not-for-profit groups and the responses of child care agencies and the police. 
Former Child Migrants will attend the Royal Commission from 08:00 until 16:00hrs.  The public hearing will be held at: Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission, 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth Western Australia 6000.

The vigil will be attended by approximately 25 former migrants and their families.

Media Enquiries:
David Standard
david@sidneymedia.com
+44 (0)7540 332717

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Former Child Migrants plan vigil as first abuse evidence given to Royal Commission

Former child migrants are planning a silent vigil outside the Royal Commission public hearing in Perth on 28th April 2014 to mark the first time Britain’s child migrants will give public testimony to the Commission into the sexual abuse they suffered after being ‘trafficked’ to Australia from the United Kingdom. 

Former child migrants will tell the full story of their ordeal at the hands of the Christian Brothers in Western Australia to the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. 

The Commission is investigating the allegations against the Christian Brothers who ran the Bindoon, Castledare, Clontarf and Tardun orphanages and the response of Western Australian State authorities to allegations of child sexual abuse at the institutions.  Hundreds of former child migrants endured torture, criminal assaults and unspeakable acts of brutality in these homes after being forcibly deported from the United Kingdom, often without their parents' knowledge or consent. 

Throughout the day many of these former child migrants will gather outside the Commission hearing in Perth in a dignified silence in support of those giving evidence and to recall the brutality and cruelty many of them suffered on their arrival in Australia. 

Norman Johnston, sent to Clontarf in 1950 aged 8 years said:
“We have waited all our lives for this moment, a chance for the truth to be told in public. Whilst it is a momentous day we still know that so much remains hidden.
We are thankful for the apologies from Government, both in this country and the United Kingdom, but we still do not know the full truth about why were we taken from our parents and given to those who made our lives a living hell in Australia.
This vigil should serve as a reminder that the child migrants are not going away.
We hope this royal commission goes a long way to getting the answers for how we were allowed to be treated so cruelly in Australia but the truth about how we got here is also essential.
We call on the UK Government to set up a judicial inquiry into the fate of child migrants to finally explain why children were taken from their beds and trafficked to Australia.” 

From 1947, child migrants as young as three were shipped to Australia from Britain into abusive, substandard institutions described as more like concentration camps than children's homes.  Although inspections by a UK Government committee blacklisted many Australian institutions in 1956, children continued to be deported and abused in these institutions up until 1970 when the trafficking ended. 

Time limitation has prevented legal action against the Christian Brothers and only a fraction of the perpetrators have ever been charged.  

It is believed that during the post-war period about 3,300 children were shipped to Australia. Governments have not been able to provide more precise statistics. 

The Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse is looking at child sex abuse in Australia, including investigations into religious organisations, state care facilities, schools, not-for-profit groups and the responses of child care agencies and the police.

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Press Release: Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse

They just don’t get it!

Yet again, we read with a mixture of sadness and anger the findings of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse. The same evidence that was given to the Australian Senate by the International Association and the Child Migrants Trust 12 years ago.
They just don’t get it!  It was clear over 20 years ago that child abuse was endemic in these institutions – not only those run by church and charities, but in State institutions as well – conveniently left out by this Inquiry.

Action is required now. Failure to remove the time limitation period relating to historical abuse of vulnerable children protects perpetrators and denies justice for those who most desperately need it. And that mean all of us – society as a whole.

Former child migrants have been campaigning for 25 years on these very issues, both in Australia and United Kingdom. We intend to extend our campaign to the Commonwealth. Progress on these critical matters is far too slow. Get real - start and take positive action now. If politicians are committed to protecting today’s children, they must deal with the past. Four years on from the Australian Government’s Apology to former Child Migrants, justice still eludes us and our families.  Vested interests win again?

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IAFCM&F Letter to The Guardian - 31st Oct 2012

The following letter was published in The Guardian on Wednesday 31 October 2012:

Truth on migrants:
"Michael Mansfield QC's call for a permanent, independent truth commission (No more cover-ups, 30 October) is timely and compelling. The recent appalling scandals like the Hillsborough disaster and the Savile abuse allegations are just the latest examples of the need for such a body. Similarly, the dreadfully slow response and late apology for Britain's shameful child migration schemes are further symptoms of the inadequacy of our present arrangements. These simply take far too long to uncover the truth and rarely deliver a real sense of justice or accountability to those involved. A permanent body would help to show that this country has the moral courage and integrity to confront the darker episodes of its policy failures. It would also improve the accountability of state and other agencies who too often resort to tactics of blame or denial when mistakes are made. As former child migrants, we have a terrible sense of deja vu. Gordon Brown's apology on behalf of the nation in 2010 meant so much. He spoke the truth – hopefully justice will follow."

Norman Johnston
President, International Association of Child Migrants and their Families

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IAFCM&F Press Release 2nd May 2012

It takes 2 seconds to hurt a child for life,
2 governments to separate a family for decades.
It takes over 22 years for 2 governments to say sorry.

On the 24th February 2010 the then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology to former child migrants on behalf of the Nation.

This apology was fully endorsed by David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

For us and our families, it was a moment of recognition for which we had waited all our lives and a symbolic occasion we will never forget.

The Family Restoration Fund gives real meaning to the words of the apology. It gives hope and practical help to former child migrants meeting their elderly mothers and fathers and building family relationships. It is beginning to change our lives for the better.

This second Anniversary provides an opportunity to review the reparation progress and re-affirm the Nation’s abhorrence at the forced deportation of its children. Learning from the past is a vital strand of recovery for us all. A day of National Remembrance will help future generations understand what can happen when we fail to safeguard our children and families.

More is needed to fully address issues of justice for British citizens who lost their families and identities to the cruel and discriminatory policy of child migration. But the UK Government’s continued commitment to its Apology through this event today remains a source of encouragement and hope for us all.

For further information please contact Tony Costa on 0115 9822811

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New Year Honours List 2011

CBE for Trust's Founder and Director

"The International Association of Former Child Migrants and their Families congratulates Margaret Humphreys on this richly deserved honour after more than two decades of sustained campaigning and professional commitment.
We are delighted that the British Government has finally recognized Margaret's remarkable contribution to former UK Child Migrants and their families - by founding the Child Migrants Trust, bringing families together and leading the way to social justice.
Over 23 years ago, Margaret led us out of the wilderness of silence and cover ups to a more hopeful and dignified place.  One by one, we learnt we were not orphans, we were given hope.  Above all, we were not alone, we had families. Margaret Humphreys' humanitarian work rightly deserves to be recognised
."
Harold Haig
Secretary
31st December 2010

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Australian Apology 1st Anniversary event - Canberra

The following speech was delivered by Harold Haig on behalf of the International Association of Former Child Migrants and their Families at the Canberra event on 16th November 2010, marking the first Anniversary of the Australian Government's national apology:

“Minister Macklin and invited guests,
Thank you for your invitation to say a few words on the first Anniversary of the Australian Government's national apology to former Child Migrants and Forgotten Australians.
There have been many developments over the past 12 months. Much work has been devoted to ensuring the apology has a more direct and meaningful impact on our daily lives. For example, there have been many consultations and focus groups across Australia covering a wide range of issues.
Attention has been given to historic and cultural matters as well as the present and future services required by the child migrant and wider community of care leavers.
Only last week, I attended the opening of the first major exhibition on Britain's Child Migrants at the Australian National Maritime Museum. This will help to raise the profile and public awareness of child migration and its’ terrible consequences for too many.
Reconciliation, redress and recognition all emerge from coming to terms with a nation's shameful past. In our case, this involves at least two nations. Picking up the pieces of the damage caused to so many is not easy for anyone - including those who are now mandated to address our concerns.
Of course, while trying to get it right, we may also get it wrong. Not only do we have to actively listen to the survivors' testimonies and their raw feelings, but we have to make sure we REALLY hear.
The politics of recognition and redress is a global movement. Australia is not alone on this issue. Many countries have had to go down this same long, hard and bumpy road.
We still have a long way to go - but today is an important milestone on that necessary journey towards reconciliation.”

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