Reframing Public Inquiries as 'Procedural Justice' for Victims of Institutional Child Abuse: Towards a Hybrid Model of Justice
(2016) 38 Sydney Law Review 277-309
34 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2016 Last revised: 7 Dec 2016
Date Written: September 26, 2016
As the number of high profile cases of institutional child abuse mounts internationally, and the demands of victims for justice are heard, State responses have ranged from prosecution, apology, and compensation schemes, to truth commissions or public inquiries. Drawing on the examples of Australia and Northern Ireland as two jurisdictions with a recent and ongoing history of statutory inquiries into institutional child abuse, this article utilises the restorative justice paradigm to critically evaluate the strengths and limitations of the inquiry framework in providing ‘justice’ for victims. The article critically explores the normative and pragmatic implications of a hybrid model as a more effective route to procedural justice. It suggests that an appropriately designed restorative pathway may enhance the legitimacy and utility of the public inquiry model for victims chiefly by improving offender accountability and ‘voice’ for victims. The article concludes by offering some thoughts on the broader implications for other jurisdictions in responding to large-scale historical abuses and seeking to come to terms with the legacy of institutional child abuse.
Keywords: Restorative Justice; Sexual Assault; Institutional Abuse; Public Inquiries
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