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Ambassador Harper: Half-Day Panel Discussion on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls
September 20, 2016

A.I. 3 Half-Day Panel, Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls
U.S. Intervention by Ambassador Keith Harper

Human Rights Council 33rd Session
September 20, 2016


The United States thanks the panel for its presentation.  We greatly support and welcome continued UN attention to violence against indigenous women to address its causes and consequences, including at the upcoming 2017 Commission on the Status of Women and by UN Women.

In the face of a problem of this scope and severity, we cannot sit by passively.  That is why the United States has taken and will continue to take robust affirmative steps to address this terrible problem, both domestically and internationally.  The 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act established the Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction, which recognized tribes’ inherent power to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders who commit domestic violence, dating violence, or violate a protection order.  The distressing scope of this violence was recently highlighted by a report from our National Institute of Justice.  The report found, sadly, that 84% of Alaska Native and American Indian women and girls experience some form of violence in their lifetimes, including 56% who have experienced sexual violence, and 55% who have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner.

During the June 2016 North American Leaders’ Summit, the United States joined Canada and Mexico in establishing the North American Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls.  The working group will promote access to justice and health services through exchanging information and highlighting best practices.  It will enhance cooperation on crimes which occur on indigenous lands and across borders, including human trafficking.  And it will improve the response of justice, health, education, and child welfare systems.  In October senior officials from our three countries will meet to discuss these challenges for the first time in Washington, D.C.

We would be interested in hearing from the panelists on good practices related to enhancing cooperation with states and tribal governments to jointly pursue solutions to combat violence against indigenous women and girls.

Thank you, Mr. President.