Addressing Epidemic of Sexual Violence Against Native Women in US

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This past Thursday, Amnesty’s Sarah Deer testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on protecting native women in the US.

Deer, a Native women’s advocate and member of Amnesty USA’s Native American and Alaska Native Advisory Council, addressed the safety and justice challenges native women in the United States face as documented by our 2007 Maze of Injustice report.

Our report revealed that 1 in 3 Native American and Alaskan Native women will be raped in her lifetime. Native women are also 2.5 times more likely to be raped than non-Native women in the US with nearly 86% of rapes perpetrated by non-Native men.  Widespread human rights abuses within the judicial system and the maze of the complex interrelation of federal, state, and tribal jurisdictions often allows perpetrators to act with impunity and evade justice.

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President Obama endorses the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples!

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Kicking off the second annual White House Tribal Nations Conference this morning, President Obama announced that the U.S. would finally endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)!

The UNDRIP is a non-legally binding human rights instrument which affirms universal standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of all Indigenous Peoples. It provides a framework for addressing indigenous issues and was adopted by the United Nations in 2007, with the United States as one of only four countries, along with Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, that voted against the Declaration. Australia and New Zealand reversed their initial positions, and on November 12, Canada announced its endorsement of the Declaration as well.

In April 2010, the United States announced it would formally review its position on UNDRIP. Led by the State Department, the Administration held a series of tribal and NGO consultations to review what endorsement of the international human rights declaration would mean for Indigenous populations in the U.S. We are grateful to the Administration for their commitment to ensuring the ongoing engagement and consultation of tribal leaders, federally recognized tribes, and other interested stakeholders throughout this process.

This is a tremendous and long-overdue victory for American Indians in the U.S. – by endorsing the UNDRIP, the U.S. government is affirming its commitment to protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples, both at home and abroad. 

A huge congratulation to all of our Native American and Alaska Native partners and friends for this long-awaited and well-deserved victory!

And a deep and heartfelt thank you to ALL of our activists and supporters who took action to let President Obama know that you support indigenous rights – without your action, support and commitment, this would not have been possible.

Canada Endorses the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

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On November 12th, Canada joined the majority of the world in supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Declaration is a non-legally binding human rights instrument which affirms universal standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of all Indigenous Peoples.

Adopted by the United Nations in 2007, the United States was one of four countries, along with Australia, New Zealand, and Australia, that voted against the Declaration. Australia and New Zealand reversed their initial positions, and now, with Canada’s endorsement, the United States remains the only country that has not yet endorsed the UNDRIP.

It is past-due time for the United States to endorse the UNDRIP. Unqualified support for the Declaration is fundamental to ensuring that the United States follows international human rights standards for Indigenous Peoples, who are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable peoples in the world. In the United States, nearly 24% of indigenous people live in poverty. Endorsement of the Declaration is critical to demonstrating U.S. commitment to upholding the rights of, and addressing the issues faced by indigenous populations here at home.

In April 2010, the United States announced it would formally review its position on UNDRIP. While we are heartened by President Obama’s leadership in reviewing the U.S. position on the Declaration – we continue to urge that the United States endorse the UNDRIP immediately and without qualifications, affirming U.S. commitment to protecting the rights of Indigenous people both at home and abroad. Show President Obama your support for the UNDRIP by taking action NOW!

Eleni Orphanides contributed to this post.