By Alison O'Reilly
A leading expert in human remains who has excavated mass graves across the world has said the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation must remember that the children who died in the homes have rights – including the right to an identity.
Professor Susan Black became the lead forensic anthropologist to the British Forensic Team in Kosovo and Sierra Leone.
She also worked on the Thai Tsunami Victim Identification Operation in 2005.
Speaking to the Irish Daily Mail, Professor Black said the commission – which last month confirmed it found ‘significant quantities of human remains’ at the site of the former Tuam mother and baby home in Co. Galway – must ‘get this investigation right’.
‘Whatever they do with this grave, it will set a precedent for what happens to the others. That’s why they have to get this one right. It needs pragmatism and empathy.’ In relation to the right to an identity, Professor Black said: ‘There is one law, an international law, which is the right of identity and only children have the right to an identity.
‘Whether that extends to after their death is another matter but, in terms of international law, once you are 18 you don’t have a legal right to an identity but you do if you are 17. So, a child has a legal right to an identity.