John Swinney apologises to survivors of abuse

Scotland's deputy first minister and education secretary announces compensation scheme for survivors of abuse in care

Deputy first minister John Swinney has apologised, on behalf of the Scottish government, to survivors of child abuse in the care system

Scotland’s deputy first minister and education secretary has apologised to survivors of abuse in care in Scotland.

John Swinney – whose full statement can be read here – also announced that survivors will be eligible for “financial redress”.

Mr Swinney confirmed that the Scottish government had accepted the main recommendations put forward by the InterAction Action Plan Review Group and that, subject to parliamentary approval, legislation for a financial compensation scheme will be passed by the end of this parliamentary term.

He also confirmed that advance payments will be made as soon as possible to survivors who may not live long enough to apply to a statutory scheme, as a result of ill health or age.

Mr Swinney said yesterday that, on behalf of the Scottish government, “I offer an unreserved and heartfelt apology to everyone who suffered abuse in care in Scotland. We are deeply ashamed of what happened.”

He added: "We will progress, without delay, to detailed design of a redress scheme, ensuring we learn lessons from other countries. We will move to make advance payments as soon as we possibly can, and will do so with urgency.”

Child abuse survivors 'courageous to speak out'

Mr Swinney said: "I am determined we will have a redress scheme in Scotland which treats survivors with sensitivity and respect. Their courage and determination to speak out for justice and to protect children today and in the future from experiencing the abuse that they suffered is inspiring."

The Scottish Human Rights Commission welcomed Mr Swinney's statement.

Chair Judith Robertson said: “This is an essential component of [survivors’] access to justice. Anyone subjected to sexual abuse and serious physical or emotional abuse or neglect has a human right to access an effective and fair remedy.”

She added: “In particular, we welcome that legislation is to be progressed before the end of this parliamentary term, and that advance payments will be made to survivors over 70 and those who are approaching the end of their life through ill-health. 

"The state has an obligation to protect the rights of anyone in care. While historic abuses cannot be reversed, it is right that today's government takes all possible action to deliver justice for those affected, and to prevent further abuses in the future."

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is ongoing. It started out investigating 69 institutions and a further 17 were added in September.

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