FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Tribal courts will have the authority to prosecute non-Indians in domestic violence cases under a bill signed into law Thursday by President Barack Obama.
The measure is seen as a huge step forward by many who live on reservations and decry the high rates of domestic violence with no prosecution there. But some say it could take years to make a difference.
Indian women suffer incidents of domestic violence at rates more than double the national averages.
The new law gives Indian courts the ability to prosecute non-Indians for a set of crimes limited to domestic violence and violations of protecting orders. Tribal officials say its implementation will be slow as tribes amend their legal codes and ensure defendants receive the same rights offered in state and federal courts.