500 signatures reached
To: The Prime Minister
Include churches in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical abuse
Tena koe Prime Minister, Rt. Hon Jacinda Ardern
Please expand the Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care, to include faith-based institutions, including churches and schools.
Catholic and Anglican church leaders have called for the churches to be included in this Inquiry as a way to achieve truth, justice and reconciliation. (Radio NZ 26 March)
This is especially important for victims or survivors who have been abused in these institutions.
Including these faith-based institutions will help ensure that they have appropriate policies and practices to respond to allegations of abuse in the future. Failing to include them will convey a message that these institutions do not have the same duty-of-care expected of others.
Why is this important?
People who have experienced abuse in churches and faith-based schools need the opportunity to be heard in this once-in-a-lifetime Inquiry.
Faith-based institutions are known to have been involved in the abuse of children and young people, and some covered-up abuse or were complicit in the protection of abusers.
Right now, there are 330 integrated schools, many of which are church schools, and all of which receive at least some state funding. Given the provision of state funding to these schools, and the requirement for the state to ensure appropriate standards of care, it would be negligent to exclude them from the scope for this inquiry.
The Royal Commission is taking place against a background of national and international concern about abuse in New Zealand state care.
The Terms of Reference confirm that New Zealand has international obligations to take all appropriate legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to protect individuals from abuse, including measures for the prevention, identification, reporting, referral, investigation and follow-up of incidents of abuse.
Abuse of individuals in state care is inconsistent with applicable domestic and international human rights law standards and principles.
Abuse - including that which took place in faith-based institutions - warrants prompt and impartial examination, both to understand, acknowledge and respond to the harm caused to individuals, families and communities.
The enduring impacts of abuse take a significant toll on the mental health of survivors. For some of these people, seeing churches and associated organisations excluded from this Inquiry will create a sense of revictimisation due to being silenced by the state.
Including these faith-based institutions is an opportunity for healing and will contribute to the truth, justice, and reconciliation that so many people need.
How it will be delivered
We will present this petition to the government in time for Cabinet decisions on the Terms of Reference.