Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco delivers remarks at the closing session of the fourth meeting of the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls | Takeover bid
Notes as prepared for delivery
Good afternoon. It is a tremendous honor to be here with you and to reaffirm our shared commitment to preventing and addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls.
I would like to sincerely thank everyone who made this event possible, including the Indigenous leaders present here, as well as the governments of Canada and Mexico for their commitment to addressing gender-based violence affecting women and girls. indigenous.
This convening of the trilateral working group is of crucial importance. The testimonies we heard over these two days on three strategic priority areas will help us in our efforts to address the disproportionately high rates of violence against Indigenous peoples and the related high rates of missing persons in Indigenous communities. .
This is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration. To that end, last fall President Biden signed an executive order aimed not only at strengthening our law enforcement response in Indigenous communities, but also addressing broader security concerns and public health issues that underlie many incidents of violent crime and missing persons cases.
As the executive order recognizes, these issues require focused coordination within the federal government. We are grateful for the strong working partnership between the DOJ, Department of the Interior, HHS, and all of our sister agencies. We want to ensure a whole-of-government approach to gender-based violence.
Immediately after the executive order, the department launched a steering committee at the Department of Justice to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Over the past few months, the committee has worked closely with tribal leaders and other stakeholders on this work, including ways to expand access to justice for women and girls – as well as people of diverse gender and two-spirit identities.
Today, I am proud to announce that as a result of these consultations, I have issued a new directive to all prosecutors and law enforcement agencies operating in tribal communities. This directive responds to concerns that the department has long heard — and which I have heard directly — from tribal leaders and stakeholders about addressing violent crime in Indian Territory. While we’ve seen spikes in violent crime across the country, generations of American Indians and Alaska Natives — and Native women and girls in particular — have experienced disproportionate rates of violence. The directive reaffirms that tackling this crisis must be a priority for our prosecutors and law enforcement.
The new directive emphasizes that the department has a duty to investigate and prosecute serious crimes in Indian Country, including domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. The directive also outlines specific steps that U.S. prosecutors and law enforcement officers must follow to ensure their work is victim-centered and culturally and linguistically appropriate. Additionally, the directive reiterates how critical it is for the ministry to work closely with tribal partners to support their implementation of the 2022 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
VAWA 2022 represents a renewed commitment to tribal sovereignty, as it restores tribal jurisdiction over several offenses committed on tribal lands, including sexual violence, sex trafficking, and child abuse. These provisions were hard-won, with advocates from across the Biden-Harris administration — as well as tribal leaders and community members — coming together to ensure their inclusion. The ministry is committed to supporting tribes in exercising this authority, which will help break down barriers to justice for countless Indigenous women and children.
Of course, as evidence we have heard over the past two days underscores, much more needs to be done to ensure that Indigenous women and girls no longer suffer from disproportionate rates of violence. I look forward to our continued work together as we strengthen our commitments to preventing and responding to this violence.
Thank you all for your time. I now have the honor to introduce Dr. Juana Majel-Dixon, Chair of the National Congress of American Indians Violence Against Women Task Force, who will deliver a closing prayer.