Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand traveled to Ottawa, Canada on Thursday, Nov. 30, to lead the U.S. delegation in the Trilateral Summit on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls. This is the second meeting of the trilateral working group. The first was hosted by the U.S. in 2016 and next year’s meeting will be in 2018, hosted by Mexico.
Associate Attorney General Brand met with Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Canada’s Crown-Indigenous and Northern Affairs and Ismerai Betanzos Ordaz, Indigenous Rights Coordinator, Mexican Commission on the Development of Indigenous Rights.
“Tackling the issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls in our region and in the U.S. is not only a matter of criminal justice, but a moral imperative,” said Associate Attorney General Brand.
During the event, the three countries agreed to continue to prioritize the discussions, committing to continue the dialogue in 2018. Government representatives, in partnership with Indigenous women from across North America, will participate in events during the upcoming year, in preparation for the next meeting, which will be hosted by Mexico in the fall of 2018.
Themes discussed at this meeting were the importance of meaningful consultation with indigenous women regarding solutions to violence; promising practices for improving criminal justice responses to violent crimes against Indigenous women and girls; and the need for rigorous data collection to understand the full extent of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking in Indigenous communities.
To address this need for data, Associate Attorney General Brand has directed the Department’s National Institute of Justice to adapt an ongoing study on violence in Indian Country to add an inquiry about the prevalence rates of human trafficking of American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls.
Canada, Mexico and the United States of America were also pleased to welcome Indigenous women from their respective countries to attend the event as full partners in order to ensure that their voices were included in the discussions. Indigenous women shared their experiences and perspectives, contributing to the development of outcomes for the working group.
The Department of Justice remains committed to addressing violence against indigenous women and girls in all of its forms through aggressive law enforcement and programs that serve victims. The Department is committed to working with our international partners to share information and develop capabilities to address cross-border crimes like sex and labor trafficking together.
Associate Attorney General Brand’s visit supports the Justice Department’s continuing efforts under the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.