Charity Urges UK Government to Consider Overseas Victims of Child Sex Abuse by UK Nationals when Implementing IICSA Recommendations

Posted on: 4 mins read
Silvia Nicolaou Garcia

Senior Associate Solicitor, Public Law and Human Rights

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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published its concluding report on 20 October 2022.

Child Redress International (Child Redress), an organisation promoting access to justice for child victims of transnational sex crimes in Southeast Asia, welcomes the recommendations made by the Inquiry and encourages the government when implementing the Inquiry’s proposed reforms and in its policy-making moving forward to afford the same rights and protections to all children, including those overseas who are abused by individuals from the UK.

Represented by Simpson Millar’s Public Law and Human Rights team, Child Redress made submissions to the Inquiry as a Core Participant in Phase 2 of the Children Outside the UK investigation and also provided evidence in the Internet investigation.

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The Inquiry concluded that the full scale of abuse perpetrated by British nationals and residents to children overseas was ‘undoubtedly extensive’ and is facilitated both by international travel and – increasingly – the internet, in particular via live streaming sexual abuse.

The Inquiry’s recommendations in its final report include removing barriers for victims in the UK to bring claims against their abusers in the English and Welsh courts, implementing a single redress scheme for victims of abuse linked to public bodies and non-state institutions, and improving access to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. Although likely to significantly improve access to redress for survivors of abuse living in the UK, if implemented in their current form, the recommendations will make little difference to the availability of remedies for overseas child victims of British perpetrators.

Child Redress gave evidence to the Inquiry in the Children Outside the UK investigation about the under use of domestic legislation in protecting children overseas from individuals known to the British authorities as posing a risk to children abroad. This includes the under-utilisation of civil orders – the purpose of which is to prevent and notify foreign authorities of international travel by abusers based in the UK – and the limitations of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks which cannot be accessed by employers overseas to ensure that candidates from the UK can safely work with children.

Child Redress also made submissions on the limited use of section 72 Sexual Offences Act 2003, which enables the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute UK nationals and residents in England and Wales for child sexual offences committed abroad.

Some of the recommendations made by the Inquiry in its preliminary report on Phase 2 of the Children Outside the UK investigation published in January 2020 included the preparation of a national plan of action to address overseas child sexual abuse by UK nationals and residents.

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The Inquiry also recommended that the DBS be reformed to ensure that it is used more widely and effectively and that it can be accessed by organisations based outside the UK.

Emma Day, Chair of Trustees at Child Redress said: “As the final Inquiry report notes, ‘this is not just a national crisis, but a global one’. Perpetrators seek out children living in poverty overseas precisely because they know they can benefit from an environment of impunity. There are already additional barriers for children from outside the UK to access any kind of justice, including compensation. We hope that the redress scheme recommended by the Inquiry will consider children outside the UK without discrimination and their rights to reparation, in cases perpetrated by people with links to the UK.

“The concluding report of the Inquiry also stated that recommendations on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) reform set out in Phase 2 of the report have not been implemented by the Home Office. This is disappointing. It is imperative that organisations employing people overseas with links to the UK can request criminal reference checks from the UK. We hope that the Home Office will take into account the Inquiry’s recommendations as it completes its ongoing review of the DBS system. We also support the Inquiry’s recommendation that the three-year limitation period for personal injury claims brought by victims and survivors of child sexual abuse should be removed.”

Professor Warren Binford, an international children’s rights expert who serves on the Child Redress board of trustees and testified during the Inquiry, praised IICSA's final report but cautioned: “The Inquiry has made clear that both individuals and institutions have routinely failed children and their families and communities. They failed to protect children from predators in the first place. Then they failed to help them heal from the abuse by not acknowledging the abuse nor providing the resources needed for full recovery and reintegration into their communities, which the children have a right to under the UK’s treaty obligations as a state party to the Second Optional Protocol to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Child. Hopefully, the UK government will implement the reforms to the Disclosure and Barring Service without further delay before more children outside the UK are victimised by UK predators.”      

Child Redress was represented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC and Keina Yoshida from Doughty Street Chambers, instructed by Silvia Nicolaou Garcia and Elizabeth Smith from Simpson Millar.

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