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.