Tuesday, April 27, 2010

AIRRO: Indians Decry Rights Abuses and U.S. Inaction

Indians Decry Rights Abuses and U.S. Inaction

Sacramento, CA and Temecula, CA-


Indians from various parts of Indian Country recently participated in several listening sessions hosted by the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization ("AIRRO"), a Native American civil rights group.

The sessions were held to allow individuals, groups and tribes an opportunity to testify regarding violations of basic human and civil rights in Indian Country. The testimony and recommendations given at each of the sessions will be used by AIRRO to prepare a report which will submitted to the United Nations for use in the Universal Periodic Review of rights issues within the United States.

"The sessions were important for the simple fact that they allowed individuals and groups the opportunity to provide information regarding an issue, that up till now, had gone unreported," stated AIRRO President John Gomez, Jr. "Many people are unaware that tribal officials have committed gross human rights violations against their own citizens. And many more would be surprised to hear that the United States government is largely responsible for allowing the violations to occur and continue."

As evidence of this growing trend, testimony at both sessions chronicled actions taken by tribal officials to strip or deny their citizens the basic rights others take for granted. People testified about being stripped of their citizenship, being denied access to their land, and being prohibited from practicing their religion. All this, at the hands of tribal officials.

Attempts to address these issues are often fruitless as the officials responsible for determining whether or not the actions are consistent with tribal or federal laws are the same tribal officials whose actions are under review. Additionally, requests for assistance to the United States go unanswered. Government agencies, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, routinely decline to intervene in the "internal affairs" of tribes.

"The United States has created an environment for human and civil rights abuses in Indian Country. As long as tribal officials can invoke immunity to escape prosecution and individuals are denied redress for violations of their rights, the number of human rights victims in Indian Country will continue to grow," added Gomez.

The attendees at each of the sessions provided recommendations to address the rights abuses in Indian Country. Well some stated that federal courts should have the authority to review tribal actions that allegedly violate the rights of individuals, most said that the federal government must provide meaningful enforcement of existing laws enacted to protect individuals from abuses by tribal officials.

AIRRO plans to make its report available once it is completed. It will also prepare to consult with the federal government regarding human rights abuses in Indian Country and discuss the United States position regarding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

For more information or to receive updates regarding this issue, please visit www.airro.org or send an email to mail@airro.org.
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