Professor Patricia Lundy and Professor Brandon Hamber have now published a Policy Brief based on work on historical institutional abuse and transitional justice.
This policy brieﬁng draws upon the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry to explicate the nexus of historical institutional abuse inquiries with transitional justice approaches. Through detailed analysis of empirical research with those who gave testimony to the Inquiry, the brieﬁng explores to what extent the Inquiry was victim-centric, participatory and responsive. Drawing on lessons from transitional justice, the brief outlines ﬁve recommendations that could strengthen the victim-centred nature of approaches to dealing with the legacy of historical child abuse. The brief concludes that addressing victims’ needs should be the linchpin for both transitional justice and historical institutional abuse approaches.
In response to this consultation, the Chair and Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences, Ulster University, made a submission to the Committee. Our submission (download in full here) argues that the new proposals aim to address some of our concerns about the Stormont House Agreement by reducing the number of institutions that victims and survivors will need to engage with. This minimises the risk that victims will be re-traumatised by having to engage with multiple institutions. However, the new proposals also emphasise the process of gathering information rather than justice. We argue that this will cause significant hurt to many for whom justice was required for meaning-making, and who had awaited justice in order to process the trauma and recover. You can read more here.
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.
On 5 October 2018, The Chair was invited to the “5th Social Forum” (hosted by Bake Bidea) in the Basque Country. This civil society structure aims to engage the wider society in the peace process and it took place in Pamplona. The title of the conference was the “Right to know the truth: mechanisms for the recognition and reparation of the victims of the conflict” and The Chair gave the keynote address followed by discussion with the wider public.
The event was covered in a range of newspapers provoking a range of different reactions:
On 13 September 2018 the Chair hosted the Truth and Reconciliation Platform in the Great Hall at Magee. The event took the form of survivors of the conflict sharing their stories and experiences with the public. Powerful testimony was given by Joe Campbell, Kathleen Gillespie, Stephen Travers and Alan McBride. The evening was deeply moving and inspirational, and shows why moving forward the peace process is so important.
1.We cannot build the future if we do not have a common vision for the future;
2.We cannot build the future if we do not truly understand the past;
3.We cannot build the future without a holistic and collaborative approach; and
4.We cannot build a future without dealing with dominant masculine cultures.
On 12 January 2016 the Chair travelled to Berlin to the Sigmund Freud University where he was asked to deliver a public lecture as part of their social psychology series. The title of the lecture Professor Hamber gave was “Ambivalence as a goal of reconciliation”. The lecture explored how for victims of political violence they are often asked to live with ambivalence in a productive way, i.e. continue their lives after a peace process despite the
suffering and loss they have experiences. Similarly, Hamber argued that societies emerging from conflict need to find collective social and political ways of living with the ambivalences of the past. This type of thinking is difficult to reconcile with the approach of governments and policymakers, as it is hard to imagine how one can create policy for long-term (perhaps never-ending) processes for which there is no quick fix.