International Association of former Child Migrants & their Families protest outside the Royal Commission Public Hearings in Sydney - 26th March 2015
Press Statement from International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families – 1st September 2014
PM urged to create UK-wide judicial inquiry into British child trafficking
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.
Former child migrants will be present at the hearing from Monday 1st September.
These include Tony Costa former mayor of Subiaco in Western Australia, who will be attending the inquiry and is available for interview.
Tony Costa, now reunited with his family in Northern Ireland, was sent to Bindoon in Western Australia at the age of 11 in 1953. He told the Guardian in 2010: "I still wake during the night in a cold sweat, in a state of night terror featuring the monsters of my childhood – though it was never any kind of childhood," he said.
"I vividly recall crying myself to sleep, pleading with God to save me from the torment of my life every day. Desperately trying to understand what crime I had committed to warrant such a heinous punishment as to be incarcerated at Bindoon."
Tony was told that he was an orphan but that was not true. Information left for Tony by his mother was never passed on, and she died before they could be reunited.
David Standard 07540 332717
Tony Costa contact details in NI for 1st September (intl. Mobile): 00 353 851 870577
Press Statement from International Association of former Child Migrants and their Families - 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.”