Tuesday, March 31, 2015

South Dakota officials to stop violating the rights of Indian parents and tribes in state child custody cases

On March 30, 2015, in a sweeping victory for Indian families, a federal court ordered South Dakota officials to stop violating the rights of Indian parents and tribes in state child custody proceedings on several grounds.

In a 45-page ruling, Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken wrote that "Indian children, parents and tribes deserve better," agreed with all seven of the ACLU's claims, and ordered the state to:
  • Provide parents with adequate notice prior to emergency removal hearings
  • Allow parents to testify at those hearings and present evidence
  • Appoint attorneys to assist parents in these removal  proceedings
  • Allow parents to cross-examine the state’s witnesses in the hearings
  • Require state courts to base their decisions on evidence presented during these hearings.
 The court also found that the state violated the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law designed to ensure the security and integrity of Indian tribes and families. The law is intended "to curb the alarmingly high rate of removal of Indian children from Indian parents."

More:  https://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/oglala-sioux-tribe-v-van-hunnik

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