Professors Brandon Hamber and Patricia Lundy have published a new article on “Lessons from Transitional Justice? Toward a New Framing of a Victim-Centered Approach in the Case of Historical Institutional Abuse”. The article was published in the journal Victims and Offenders in April 2020.
The article critically examines transitional justice mechanisms to determine if historical abuse inquiries can learn from this ﬁeld of practice. The article explores the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry which reported its ﬁndings in January 2017 as a vehicle for addressing what lessons might be learned or shared between the ﬁelds of transitional justice and investigations into historical abuse. Through a detailed analysis of empirical research with those that gave testimony to the Inquiry, including fourthly-three victims and Inquiry transcripts, the article explores to what extent the Inquiry was victim-centered, enabled victim participation (beyond giving testimony) and addressed victim needs. The article shows that many of the ﬂaws of transitional justice mechanisms have been replicated when dealing with historical child abuse.
Drawing on lessons from transitional justice – both positive and negative – the article outlines ﬁve broad areas for consideration that could strengthen the victim-centered nature of approaches to dealing with the legacy of historical child abuse. The article concludes that addressing victims’ needs should be at the center and drive approaches and processes for both transitional justice and historical institutional abuse.