The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) report which is being published in Belfast on Friday, must deliver truth and justice for victims, Amnesty International has urged.
The 2,300-page 12-volume report will be formally launched by the chairman of the inquiry, former High Court judge Sir Anthony Hart in Belfast on Friday. It is expected that he will recommend what compensation victims of abuse should receive. That would be a matter for the Northern Executive to implement, although due to the current political crisis, the Executive is no longer operating.
The HIA Inquiry has investigated 22 Catholic and Protestant church and state homes or institutions, as well as the circumstances surrounding the sending of child migrants from Northern Ireland to Australia, and the activities of serial child abuser Fr Brendan Smyth.
The inquiry investigated the treatment of children in residential institutions which had a responsibility for children under the age of 18 since 1922 following Partition until 1995.
It sat for 223 days of hearings and heard from hundreds of witnesses. It was established by legislation passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly after a campaign led by abuse victims and supported by Amnesty International.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director, who campaigned for a public inquiry, said "this child abuse inquiry will be judged on the extent to which it delivers truth and justice for victims".
“Having sat through some of the inquiry’s hearings, I will be shocked if it finds anything less than catastrophic and systemic failure by the state, and by the religious bodies and others who ran homes, in upholding their duty of care to the children for whom they were acting in loco parentis,” he added.
“Not only will victims deserve full and wholehearted apologies from government and from the Church authorities and others who were responsible for running homes where children were abused, but also reparation, including financial compensation, to which they have a right,” said Mr Corrigan.
“While the inquiry’s terms of reference do not permit it to establish individual culpability for abuse perpetrated against children, victims will rightly expect that any evidence uncovered by the inquiry which points to potential criminal wrongdoing will be passed to the police for investigation, with a view to possible prosecution,” he added.