InterAction process launched

Preparations have begun in a process to seek justice for survivors of historic child abuse in Scotland.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission with the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) have today launched a website ahead of an ‘InterAction’ meeting to take place in October.

The InterAction will bring together former residents, representatives of institutions, government and others with responsibility to consider how recommendations made by the Commission in 2010 can be taken forward in practical and meaningful ways. The aim is to develop an Action Plan for justice within a human rights context.

Since historical child abuse was first raised in the Scottish Parliament there has been an ongoing national discussion about what needs to be done to put right the harm done and to make sure children who are looked after are safe and properly cared for in the future. The Scottish Government has taken forward a number of actions to date including establishing the SurvivorScotland programme and a pilot confidential forum, Time to be Heard, which provided an opportunity for former residents of child care institutions to be heard and have their experiences recorded.

The InterAction is separate to the recently launched Scottish Government consultation on establishing legislation to create a National Confidential Forum, however the Scottish Government has also committed to taking part in the InterAction process.

Duncan Wilson, head of Legal and Strategy at the Commission said: “We are pleased that the preparation for the InterAction is now underway. To make the process work we need all of those affected to contribute to the preparations, led by CELCIS.

“The InterAction process will take a pragmatic approach to achieving the principle of justice for all survivors. It will allow all of those affected to outline what they believe is required, and how practically it can best be secured to advance justice for survivors of historic child abuse, which is long overdue.

“We invite everyone with an interest in ensuring the InterAction is successfully delivered in constructive and realistic way to contact CELCIS to find out more about how to take part.”

Jennifer Davidson, Director of CELCIS said:  “CELCIS is delighted to be working in partnership with the Commission to help promote the Human Rights Framework for people affected by abuse when 'in care'. This reflects our longstanding commitment to the prevention of, and concerns about the impact of this form of injustice.  

“We are assisting the Commission in the process of preparing for an InterAction, which will give those affected by historic child abuse while in care in Scotland, as well as government, institutions, civil society and others with an interest, a voice on how the Human Rights Framework should be implemented.”

In 2010 the Commission developed a Human Rights Framework for the design and implementation of a comprehensive and progressive process of justice for survivors of historic child abuse. The Human Rights Framework is based on international human rights law, including European and United Nations human rights treaties, research on the views of survivors and others whose rights were affected, and experiences from several different countries.

The Framework is a best practice model and holds great potential in providing justice for abuse survivors. Amongst the central recommendations in the Framework are that the Scottish Government:

  • Ensures full and effective participation of survivors and others whose rights are affected in all decisions on next steps.

  • Ensures accountability for human rights violations including through investigations capable of determining not only what happened but why and how it can be avoided in the future, as well as prosecutions where appropriate.

  • Identifies and addresses barriers faced by survivors in effectively accessing justice.

  • Develops as effective as possible a reparations package which includes opportunities for restitution, adequate compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.

  • Considers the development of legislation to facilitate apologies by institutions.

Those who wish to engage with the InterAction should visit

The Scottish Government consultation on establishing a National Confidential Forum is online here.

SurvivorScotland, developed by the Scottish Government, oversees the National Strategy for survivors of childhood abuse. If you need advice or information about support services please use the resource list online at their website.

Background information

What is the timescale for the InterAction process?

The first InterAction meeting is currently planned to take place in October 2012. The number and timing of any further events will be dependent on the outcome of the first meeting. As well as face to face meetings the preparation for the InterAction will hear from people through surveys, questionnaires and other feedback methods.

What remedies will the InterAction offer?

None. The InterAction is one of a series of steps towards achieving justice for survivors but it is a progressive forum for discussion, not an agency which has any remit, powers or mandate to recommend or award any remedies, including compensation. In international law compensation is one of five ways that the State i.e. the Scottish Government can make reparations:

  • ​Satisfaction - many survivors in Scotland, as elsewhere, have called for measures of satisfaction such as effective apologies and a formal recording of the truth. In relation to securing effective apologies there are international principles of best practice on the form an apology should take.

  • Restitution - restoring things that were lost due to the abuse.

  • Rehabilitation - can involve access to mental health services such as counselling, as well as other courses - in Scotland some survivors have suggested parenting skills would be useful.

  • Adequate compensation - compensation should be available, the amount to be determined on an individual basis and should be an amount which can be considered “just satisfaction” for the abuse of rights endured.

  • Guarantees of non-repetition - reparation is also forward looking, to identify what went wrong and learn lessons for the future.