PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Teri Stoddard
Telephone: 301-801-0608
Email: tstoddard@saveservices.org

SAVE Calls on Lawmakers to Stand Tall for Victims and the Constitution during Upcoming VAWA Vote

Washington, DC/May 15, 2012 – A leading victim-advocacy organization is calling on Representatives to support reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, H.R. 4970. Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) says H.R. 4970 will best help victims of partner abuse and safeguard Constitutional protections.

SAVE urges lawmakers to resist attempts to expand definitions of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. Overly-broad definitions encourage false allegations of abuse and make it harder for true victims to be heard.

Since its passage in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has sparked controversy. The ACLU once termed VAWA’s mandatory arrest provisions “repugnant” to the Constitution, and in 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a VAWA provision designed to provide a federal civil remedy for sex assault cases.

One area of particular controversy centers on VAWA’s immigration provisions, which allow a foreign national to claim to be a domestic violence victim without provision of evidence. Under current law, the accused person is deprived of key due process protections and is barred from submitting evidence of immigration fraud. One civil rights expert termed such provisions “Kafka-esque.” (http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2012/03/the_new_vawaa_threat_to_college_students.html)

Last year the Senate Judiciary Committee invited testimony from Julie Poner, who was a victim of false allegations made by her former husband from the Czech Republic. Saying she had “suffered unimaginable consequences,” Poner lamented the countless men and women “who have lost access to their children, their homes, their jobs, and in some cases their freedom because of false allegations of abuse.” (http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/pdf/11-07-13%20Poner%20Testimony.pdf)

“Our nation was founded on due process protections such as the right of the accused to be advised of the charges, to confront his accuser, and to be afforded the opportunity to refute the accusations,” notes SAVE spokesman Philip Cook. “But under the existing VAWA, the accused is stripped of these Constitutional protections, affording more rights to the accuser than to the American citizen. This is a slap in the face to notions of justice and fairness.”

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence: www.saveservices.org

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