It's a good move for our President to lend his endorsement, but will it be wind through rotted sails? We have so many human rights issues here in Indian Country that many tribal leaders should be EMBARRASSED.
During the second annual Tribal Nations Summit in Washington, DC this morning, President Obama announced that the United States will lend its support to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Prior to this morning's announcement, the United States had been the lone holdout of the original four nations to vote against the adoption of the Declaration by the UN General Assembly in 2007; the other three (Australia, New Zealand, and Canada) have all since reversed their position.
AIRRO held listening sessions on the abuses in Indian Country, that we wrote about in April:
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."
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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.