03 May 2019, The Tablet

Abuse inquiry announces new investigation into religious institutions

IICSA in the UK is opening new strand into religious institutions such as Jehovah's Witnesses

Abuse inquiry announces new investigation into religious institutions

File picture from a Jehovah Witness convention in Australia in 2015

The UK's independent child sex abuse inquiry has announced a new investigation into other religious organisations such the Jehovah's Witnesses.

So far IICSA in the UK has focused on the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. 

The new investigation will be into policies, practices and procedures in religious institutions including non conformist Christian denominations, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Religious settings such as mosques, synagogues, churches and temples are also to be included.

In addition, places of faith tuition such as Muslim madrassahs and Christian Sunday schools and places where children and young people gather in connection with their religious beliefs, including youth groups and camps, will be investigated.

More than one in 10 survivors of child sexual abuse who shared their accounts with the inquiry's "Truth Project" reported sexual abuse in a religious institution.

Of this group, almost a quarter told the inquiry they were abused in institutions in scope of this new investigation, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, Judaism and Islam.

Not all participants provided details about the religious denomination of the institution or perpetrator. Organisations and individuals are being invited to apply for core participant status.

Core participants must have a significant interest in this investigation and have special rights defined by legislation. A preliminary hearing will take place at 2pm on 23 July 2019 and public hearings will take place in 2020.

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