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Scottish Government considers child abuse inquiry

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Moves to improve justice for child abuse survivors applauded

Government ministers say they will commit to improving justice for survivors of historic child abuse – a move welcomed by Scotland's human rights commissioner.

Mike Russell, cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning, made the announcement during an event in Glasgow hosted by the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Among the pledges outlined were a support fund for survivors, a review of how survivors cannot access civil justice and the possibility for an overall inquiry into high profile incidents stretching back decades.

Russell also said there would be consideration for an apology law.

The announcement followed a two-year process that has brought together survivors of abuse and a wide range of parties with responsibilities towards them.

We are listening to views on all sides of the debate and shall bring forward our view shortly - Mike Russell

Russell said: “I have committed to considering whether we need a further inquiry and what form that might take to create a better national understanding, place the facts on the record and bring the opportunity to move on for many survivors.

“We are listening to views on all sides of the debate and shall bring forward our view shortly.”

Professor Alan Miller, chair of the commission, said child abuse was a serious breach of human rights with lasting and 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

“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,” said Miller.

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 previous work, 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.”