The legislation on which the Commissioner’s role is based is called the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019. The same Act also sets out the legislation for the Redress Board. You can read the Act in full here Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019 (legislation.gov.uk)
The Act sets out in law
- the aim, duties and powers of the Commissioner for Survivors of Childhood Institutional Abuse
- entitlement to compensation for childhood institutional abuse which took place in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995, and
- how the Redress Board operates.
Duties and Powers of the Commissioner
The Commissioner’s principal responsibility is to promote the interests of Victims and Survivors of historical institutional childhood abuse.
1. The Commissioner must provide advice on matters concerning the interests of Victims and Survivors as soon as reasonably practicable after receiving a request for advice, and whenever the Commissioner thinks appropriate
2. The Commissioner must take reasonable steps to ensure that Victims and Survivors are made aware of:
(a) the functions of the Commissioner;
(b) the location of the Commissioner; and
(c) the ways in which they may communicate with the Commissioner
3. The Commissioner must encourage the provision, and the coordination of the provision, of relevant services in Northern Ireland to Victims and Survivors. Those relevant services are
(a) to improve a person's physical or mental health,
(b) to help a person to overcome an addiction,
(c) to provide a person with counselling,
(d) to improve a person's literacy or numeracy,
(e) to provide a person with other education or training, or
(f) to enable a person to access opportunities for work
4. The Commissioner must monitor the operation of the facilities currently available in Northern Ireland which are solely for providing Victims and Survivors with:
(a) counselling and supplementary information about how to access health services, housing services, education services or employment services;
(b) help to improve literacy or numeracy; or
(c) advice on opportunities for education or work or on entitlements to housing or social security benefits
5. The Commissioner must appoint an advisory panel of Victims and Survivors
6. The Commissioner must make arrangements for publicising the role of the Redress Board
7. The Commissioner must provide general advice about how to make an application to the Redress Board as well as assisting applicants to access information on their time in an institution in connection with an application to the Redress Board
8. The Commissioner must monitor the operation of the Redress Board.
1. The Commissioner may undertake or commission research into matters concerning the interests of Victims and Survivors
2. The Commissioner may compile information concerning the interests of Victims and Survivors; provide advice or information on matters concerning the interests of Victims and Survivors; and publish anything concerning the interests of Victims and Survivors, including:
(i) the results of research undertaken or commissioned and
(ii) advice provided by the Commissioner
3. The Commissioner may make representations or recommendations to any person about matters concerning the interests of Victims and Survivors
4. The Commissioner may establish, or make arrangements for establishing, a panel of solicitors, the members of which the Commissioner is satisfied have the necessary expertise for providing legal advice and assistance on applications and appeals.