Limits of State Responsibility

Since the 1990s, historical abuse of children in out-of-home care has received political attention in many western countries. Alongside inquiries, several states have implemented official apologies and financial compensation in an attempt to offer redress to the victims. This project deals with processes of exclusion and inclusion of groups entitled to financial redress. However, the design of these redress processes depends on present assumptions about the welfare state's historical responsibility for the past.

In order to understand how the Swedish redress process has functioned this project address its prerequisites. For example, the project examines how the inclusion and exclusion has been redefined in the Swedish redress policy from the establishment of a government inquiry 2006 (The inquiry into abuse and neglect of children in institutions and foster homes) to the official apology in 2011, and subsequently the passing of the Financial Redress Act in 2012. In addition, the role of historians in these deeply historicized processes are discussed. 

Memories of childhood traumas meet the law

While the mission is to offer the victims redress, the financial redress process is designed as a judicial procedure. The applicants must show that they are covered by the legal requisites of the Financial Redress Act. By analysing how the political ambitions set out in the Swedish redress process operate in legal practice within the decision-making of the Redress Board the project investigates the inclusion and exclusion of groups entitled to financial redress. Hence, the project illustrates how the perceptions of vulnerable citizens are constructed in the intersection of redress politics and the legal implementation of said politics. Ultimately this project will contribute to a better understanding of financial compensation as a means of redress.

Presentations & Publications


(2018) Johanna Sköld, Recommendations – are they implemented? The Swedish case. Mechanisms for Dealing with the Legacy of Historical Child Abuse: International Lessons for New Approaches Workshop 21st September 2018, Ulster University, Belfast.

(2017) Justice lost to history: the “normal” abuse of children in the Swedish financial redress process. Johanna Sköld, Bengt Sandin Presented at 29th Congress of Nordic Historians, Aalborg, Denmark.


(2016) Johanna Sköld, Bengt Sandin & Johanna Schiratzki. ”Memories of childhood traumas meet the law: financial redress aimed at victims of historical child abuse”, Workshop Compensating the Past, Norrköping 10-11 november 2016, and Oral History Symposium, Helsingfors.

(2016) Johanna Sköld, Bengt Sandin & Johanna Schiratzki. ”Re-interpreting past experience of historical child abuse in current redress processes: a Swedish case study”, European Social Science History Conference (SHCY), Valencia, Spanien.


(2019) Schiratzki, J., Sköld, J., & Sandin, B.  Redress in Context: The Swedish Redress Scheme for historical abuse of children in care – re-introducing inquisitorial procedure? In Nordisk Socialrättslig Tidskrift, (21–22), 97–118.

(2018) Johanna Sköld, Bengt Sandin & Johanna Schiratzki. Historical Justice through Redress Schemes? The practice of interpreting the law and physical child abuse in Sweden, i Scandinavian Journal of History, DOI: 10.1080/03468755.2018.1555100

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