Justice for survivors of historic abuse: Commission welcomes commitments to act

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has today welcomed Scottish Government commitments to improve justice for survivors of historic child abuse, including developing a support fund for survivors, a review of why survivors are not able to access civil justice, considering an Apology Law and funding for appropriate forms of commemoration.

The announcements were made by Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning at a meeting in Glasgow today, hosted by the Commission and the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland. The event followed a two-year InterAction process that has brought together survivors of abuse and a wide range of parties with responsibilities towards them.

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission said,

“Child abuse is a serious breach of human rights with lasting and significant harmful consequences. The commitments made today mark an important milestone towards securing justice for survivors of historic abuse. Implementation of these commitments cannot come a minute too soon and we urge the Scottish Government to put them into action with the utmost urgency.”

The Commission has consistently called for a National Inquiry into Historic Abuse, drawing on lessons from other countries about the benefits of different approaches. Commenting on this issue, Professor Miller said,  

“We welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s promise to carry out a prompt review of the added value of a National Inquiry and that the door remains open to such an inquiry taking place.”

The Commission has also welcomed a separate announcement by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service that it will improve and expand training for prosecutors in historic abuse cases.

Calling for all parties involved in securing justice for survivors of abuse to now build on the approach taken through the InterAction process, Professor Miller said,

“Survivors of abuse – those whose rights have been breached and who the state failed in its duty to protect – must continue to be at the heart of further decisions about how to secure justice and appropriate remedies. The inclusive, human rights based approach that we have facilitated with CELCIS for the past two years, has been crucial to negotiating meaningful commitments to action. This approach must continue.”


  1. The InterAction process is a facilitated negotiation between survivors and a wide range of those with responsibilities or interest in securing justice for victims of child abuse. 75 people have been involved in 3 formal InterAction events, with more involved in mini-interactions and open events.  
  2. The InterAction process has run for nearly two years and has involved two full InterAction meetings in February and June 2013. It has been overseen by a review group which contains survivors, representatives of institutions, Government, public bodies and others. Three open events for survivors of abuse, as well as a consultation on a draft Action Plan, have also taken place to enable wider participation and review of progress by those directly affected by the issues being considered through the InterAction.
  3. The process has been constructed based on human rights principles outlined in SHRC’s Human Rights Framework for Acknowledgement and Accountability for Historic Child Abuse, published in 2010. It is facilitated by the Scottish Human Rights Commission and CELCIS (the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland).