GENEVA, Switzerland - Two elected tribal leaders from the United States, a doctor and tribal councilwoman from the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota and a legislative assistant from the Navajo Nation in Arizona, addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday about the need for continued vigilance in fighting human trafficking on reservations.
Dr. Monica Mayer and Nathaniel Brown represented their respective tribal governments.
Their attendance at the meeting followed earlier consultations on their reservations with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples on their situation in the United States.
The two gave the following joint statements to the UN council:
"I am an elected leader of the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation, which the Special Rapporteur visited in the United States, " said Mayer. "We are here today to discuss one of the most serious impacts of development of resources on our lands: human trafficking. We support the Special Rapporteur's finding that trafficking is an impact of extractive industry development.
" I have been a practicing physician for over 20 years. I have seen firsthand the devastation that human trafficking has wreaked on our communities. There are serious health consequences of trafficking including physical abuse, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, depression and suicide. The social and cultural wounds of this situation will take generations to heal. We ask the United Nations to undertake a comprehensive inquiry on human trafficking specific to tribal communities using disaggregated data on the impact of trafficking in our communities."
Brown said to the U.N. council: "I am an elected member of the Navajo Nation, which the Special Rapporteur visited in the United States. The MHA Nation, the Navajo Nation and other tribes have passed laws to combat trafficking but the United States has yet to pass a tribally specific law as to trafficking. We call upon the United States to expand tribal prosecution under the violence against women act to cover human trafficking.
"The Special Rapporteur's report on the Rights of Indigenous Women and Girls described Indigenous women's heightened risk of sexual violence as well as their lack of access to justice. Article 3 of the Declaration recognizes the right of self-determination, the realization of which would ensure that development impacts are fully considered and addressed. Self-determination allows us to best protect our women and children and to approach projects sustainably to address development impacts. We ask the Special Rapporteur what she believes States should do to fully address the issues we have raised, " Brown said.
The tribal leaders were part of a delegation to the United Nations that included Casey Family Programs and the American Indian Law Program at the University of Colorado Law School.
The statements made by the tribal leaders occurred directly after the Special Rapporteur's presentation of her report on the rights of the indigenous peoples.