'Justice gap' for Northern Ireland Magdalene Laundry victims, says Amnesty

By agency reporter
6 Feb 2013

Amnesty International has issued a call for former residents of Magdalene Laundry-type institutions in Northern Ireland to come forward to report their experiences to the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

But the human rights group warned that there was now a clear "justice gap" emerging for women who experienced abuse in such institutions in Northern Ireland.

On the day that the Irish Government published a review showing state involvement in the operation of ten Magdalene Laundries in the Republic of Ireland, Amnesty called for women who had been resident in similar institutions in Northern Ireland to consider giving evidence to the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry recently established by the Stormont government.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, said: "The truth must now also emerge about the experiences of abuse suffered by girls and women in Magdalene Laundry-type institutions in Northern Ireland, which operated until 1977. Those who suffered abuse as children are now eligible to come forward to the Inquiry, recently established by the Northern Ireland Executive, and we would encourage them to consider doing so. 165 people have now registered with the Inquiry, and 61 of them have already described their experiences to the Acknowledgement Forum.

"However, there is no recourse within the remit of the Northern Ireland Inquiry for cases of abuse which took place after the age of 18. A clear 'justice gap' is emerging for these women survivors, with no inquiry in place - north or south - into their suffering. Every victim of abuse should have the same recourse to justice – regardless of where they were, or if they were over the age cut off.

"Any allegations of criminal wrongdoing – such as arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment - should be brought to the attention of the PSNI. If there is evidence that the Northern Ireland state was complicit in any such offences, then the Executive must consider a separate inquiry mechanism for these cases which could also lead to a state apology and reparation."

[Ekk/4]

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