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Al Jazeera: Advocates seek inclusion of Alaska tribes in VAWA






President Barack Obama signs S.47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, at the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., March 7, 2013. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

Al Jazeera reports on efforts to include Alaska Natives in the tribal jurisdiction provisions of S.47, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. S.1474, the Alaska Safe Families and Villages Act, repeals Section 910, Special Rule for the State of Alaska:
Proponents of the original 1994 Violence Against Women Act say it was signed into law with the purpose of providing more protection for domestic violence victims and keeping victims safe by requiring that a victim’s protection order be recognized and enforced in all state, tribal and territorial jurisdictions in the U.S.

According to the White House, the VAWA has made a difference, saying that intimate partner violence declined by 67 percent from 1993 to 2010, more victims now report domestic violence, more arrests have been made and all states impose criminal sanctions for violating a civil protection order.

Last year the law was reauthorized, clarifying a court decision that ruled on a case involving civil jurisdiction for non–tribal members and amending the law to recognize tribal civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders “involving any person,” including non-Natives.

But almost all Alaska tribes were excluded from the amendment, with only the Metlakatla Indian community from Alaska included under the 2013 law. The rest of Alaska remains under the old law.

The change has created confusion, opponents say, particularly in cases when there is a 911 call about enforcing a protective order.

“The trooper is waiting, because he’s not sure who has jurisdiction,” said David Voluck, a tribal court judge for the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. “We need to get rid of those exceptions that create confusion.”

Get the Story:
Proponents fight for change so Alaska Natives covered by VAWA (Al Jazeera 7/21)

Indian Law and Order Commission Report:
A Roadmap For Making Native America Safer (November 2013)

Related Stories:
Opinion: Include Alaska in tribal jurisdiction provisions of VAWA (07/07)
Opinion: Alaska already recognizes tribal court protection orders (06/30)
Troy Eid: Progress on improving public safety for Alaska Natives (6/23)
DOJ supports bill to include Alaska tribes in VAWA jurisdiction (06/12)
Alaska lawmakers weigh Indian Law and Order Commission report (4/9)
Troy Eid: Making Native America safer for a new generation (1/31)
Column: Governor fails to improve safety in Native villages (1/8)
Indian Law and Order Commission pushes for reform in Alaska (12/5)
APRN: Debate about law enforcement for Alaska Native villages (11/20)