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Press Release

Department of Justice Collaborates With Canadian and Mexican Partners on Programs and Best Practices to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio traveled to Mexico City on Tuesday to lead the U.S. delegation in the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls.  The meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico as a result of the commitments from the North American Leaders Summit (NALS) in 2016.

During the meeting there was an exchange of experiences and best practices between representatives, experts and indigenous young women and advocates from Canada, Mexico and the United States to prevent and address gender violence and the challenges for their access to justice. Indigenous women shared their experiences and perspectives, contributing to the development of outcomes for the working group.

“In the United States, violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women is an urgent problem; indeed, it is a crisis,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Panuccio. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the entire Department of Justice are committed to reducing violent crime and improving public safety in Native American communities.  The United States has increased funding, launched innovative programs, and aggressively investigated and prosecuted these crimes. Cooperative efforts between our three nations will help us end the scourge of abuse and empower indigenous women and girls.  Justice demands it, the victims deserve it, and we must deliver it.”

As head of the U.S. delegation, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Panuccio met with Gina Wilson, Canada’s Deputy Minister of the Status of Women; Roberto Serrano Altamirano, Director General of the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples and Ambassador Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, Mexico’s Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Department of Justice delegation also included U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme of Montana, U.S. Attorney John Anderson of New Mexico, Acting Director Katharine Sullivan of the Office on Violence against Women (OVW), OVW Deputy Director for Tribal Affairs Sherriann Moore and Rachel Bissex, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Associate Attorney General.

Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Panuccio discussed Department of Justice efforts to prosecute and prevent violence against indigenous women and girls, including the doubling of grant funding for public safety and victim services in Native American communities.  He also discussed improvements to OVW’s Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys program. 

The Working Group also discussed the significance of economic empowerment for indigenous women and girls, as well as inclusive economic growth for families, communities and countries. The Working Group addressed the importance of supporting youth leadership in indigenous communities as a means to promote and protect their human rights.

“Comprehensive respect for the human rights of indigenous women and girls is an obligation for States and is also fundamental for the well-being of their families, communities and countries,” said Ambassador Ruiz Cabañas.  “Therefore, for the Government of Mexico, Indigenous women’s human rights are approached with a double perspective: the individual dimension, in which human rights are inherent prerogatives of women […]; and the collective dimension, since indigenous women are subject of enforceable human rights within the framework of their peoples and communities.”

“Canada, along with our North American partners, is committed to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls and to addressing the systemic factors that feed this violence,” said the Honorable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.  “In the spirit of collaboration, we will continue to seek the vision, support and guidance of Indigenous leaders, elders, women, and youth to promote the economic rights and empowerment of indigenous women and girls. I also wish to congratulate Gina Wilson and the rest of the Canadian delegation for their hard work during this meeting.”

Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Panuccio’s visit supports the Justice Department’s continuing efforts under the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.

This is the third meeting of the trilateral working group.  The first was hosted by the United States in October 2016 and the second was held in Ottawa on November 2017.

A 2016 National Institute for Justice study concluded that more than half of all Native women have experienced sexual violence and physical violence by an intimate partner, and that 84 percent have experienced some form of violence in their lifetimes.

The Group will continue to foster efforts supporting the work of indigenous women of the three countries at the margins of the trilateral annual meeting, particularly at the international fora such as the Human Rights Council, the Commission on the Status of Women and the United Nation Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFI). 

Updated October 3, 2018

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 18-1292