Task force to assess systemic causes behind high rates of missing, murdered Indigenous women in WA

Washington AG forms task force for missing, murdered Indigenous women
National Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Day of Remembrance

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Wednesday that his office will lead a 21-member task force to assess systemic causes behind the high rate of disappearances and murders of Indigenous women.

The announcement coincided with the National Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Day of Remembrance.

The task force will include tribes and tribal organizations, as well as policymakers at the local, state and federal level.

“For too long, tribal communities have suffered violence against Indigenous women,” Ferguson said. “This task force is an important step toward achieving justice for victims and families, and bringing these women home.”

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According to a release from Ferguson’s office, the task force will assess current data collection and reporting practices related to MMIW, review prosecutorial trends, identify resources to support victim services and make recommendations for increasing training for best practices when working with tribes and tribal communities.

The task force will report its finding in two reports to the governor and legislature in August 2022 and June 2023. It will also build on legislation passed in 2018 and 2019 to improve data collection related to MMIW and hire two MMIW liaisons in the Washington State Patrol.

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Since 2019, the AG’s office has convened federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement to discuss how to address the human rights crisis of MMIW. The task force will build on these conversations.

“This work is urgent,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond. “Washingtonians are not truly aware of the number of Indigenous women who are missing and murdered. We need answers, we need good data and we need thorough investigations that can point the way toward solutions to prevent these crimes. It’s important that the state put in place systems to track these cases to bring justice and to help families and communities heal. That’s what the Attorney General’s Office is empowered to do. This is a crucial step to make our society more responsive to the needs of victims and families.”

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