Walters introduces legislation to establish basic rights for survivors of sexual assault in federal cases

U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation on Friday that would establish basic rights for victims of sexual assault in federal cases.

The Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, H.R. 5578, which Walters introduced with a bipartisan group of 20 original cosponsors, would ensure that survivors of sexual assault have a right to an evidence collection kit, written notification before kits are destroyed, the ability to request preservation of kits and notification of results from forensic examinations.

“The uneven patchwork of laws across this country and the lack of substantive rights for sexual assault survivors prevents them from having full access to the justice system,” Walters said. “This legislation is so important because it ensures those rights in the federal criminal justice system and will set an example for states to adopt similar procedures and practices.”  

The legislation would also require the attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a joint working group on best practices for the care and treatment of sexual assault providers and the preservation of evidence.

“The Senate has unanimously passed these reforms, and now, the House must do its part to ensure that sexual assault survivors have a fair chance at justice,” Walters said. “It is my hope that the House of Representatives passes the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act expeditiously. I remain committed to ensuring that survivors of sexual assault can secure justice, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advocate for victims of sexual assault and enact sensible reforms like this bipartisan bill.”

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that sexual assault survivors should not have to face barriers to justice.

“The Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016 provides much needed protections and access to a legal process for survivors of sexual assault,” Goodlatte said. “I applaud Rep. Walters for introducing this bipartisan bill and look forward to taking it up in the House Judiciary Committee soon.”

U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) were among the bill’s original cosponsors.

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