Kenneth Gibson has welcomed the passage of the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament.
The Bill will have retrospective effect, removes the three year time limit during which victims of childhood abuse can bring a civil action against their abuser, meaning that survivors can pursue justice later in life.
Commenting, Kenneth Gibson said:
“This Bill is a big step forward in ensuring that survivors of childhood abuse are able to access justice later in life and it is vital that survivors have the choice to come forward as and when they feel ready to do so.
“Those who have suffered abuse as a child may delay disclosing the trauma for a host of reasons, including difficulties processing what has happened to them, feelings of shame, suppressed memories or indeed pressure from the abuser. It is important that they have the choice to take the time to come forward.
“While it remains the case that the courts will weigh up the available evidence in each individual case, these changes to the law will give survivors the all-important choice about what actions they can legally take to seek justice.”
Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing thanked survivors for their "bravery and persistence" in "not giving up their fight to set these injustices right". She said:
"While our police and prosecutors continue to pursue perpetrators even many years after their crimes, this Bill will strengthen access to justice.
"Survivors have been let down repeatedly: they were severely and fundamentally let down by their abuser and by the adults who were meant to protect them at the time. While raising a civil action may not be the right way forward for everyone, this bill widens the options available to survivors seeking redress."
The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament by the SNP Government on the 16th November 2016, and was designed to improve the lives of survivors of historical childhood abuse in Scotland.
Prior to the passage of this Bill victims had just three years from the date of their assault or from their 16th birthday to bring a court action. This time limit has been removed.
The new Bill oes not enable claims to be brought in respect of abuse which took place prior to 1964. Holyrood’s Justice Committee has called for the SNP Government to explore other options for redress for this group.
The circumstances giving rise to the court action must be defined as sexual, physical or emotional abuse.
An independent Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry into historical child abuse is currently under way, led by Judge Lady Smith.
More than 60 institutions, including several top private schools and church bodies, are being investigated.