October 7, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016, H.R. 5578, which Representative Mimi Walters (R-California) introduced to ensure survivors of sexual assault have access to justice, was signed into law.  Speaking about the law, Representative Walters said:  

“Today, we have removed a substantial barrier that survivors of sexual assault faced in their pursuit of justice.  I am grateful to Amanda Nguyen and Rise for bringing to our attention the existing flaws in the federal justice system and for their advocacy across the United States.  The Survivors’ Bill of Rights establishes clear procedures and commonsense legal protections in the federal criminal justice system that will ensure survivors of sexual assault can secure justice.  There is an uneven patchwork of laws across this country that prevents sexual assault survivors from having full access to the justice system.  This law guarantees these rights in the federal criminal justice system, but it is my hope this law will set an example for states to adopt similar procedures and practices.  Though this is an important step, as a country, we still have a great deal of work to do to improve the lives of sexual assault survivors.  I will continue to work with my colleagues to advocate for victims of sexual assault and enact sensible reforms like this bipartisan bill.”

Background

  • This law will ensure that sexual assault survivors in federal criminal cases have a right to: a sexual assault evidence collection kit; be notified in writing before the kit is destroyed; request preservation of the kit; and be informed of important results from a forensic examination. 
  • It will also require the Attorney General and the United States Department of Health and Human Services to convene a joint working group on best practices regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors and the preservation of forensic evidence.
  • Additionally, it will make the Victims of Crimes Act grant funding available for states to disseminate written notice of survivors’ rights.