Activists praise D.C. Council reforms in sex assault cases

WASHINGTON — Last year, a human rights organization sharply criticized D.C. police for what it called callous treatment of sexual assault cases. But now, the it has changed its tune offering high praise for a package of reforms passed by the D.C. Council.

Human Rights Watch scrutinized the handling of the cases, but Sara Dareshori — the organization’s senior counsel in the US program — says the reforms meet all the changes the group requested.

The changes include having a sex assault advocate present for police interviews and a twice-yearly independent review of police practices.

“This is a terrific step that the council has taken,” Dareshori says.

Susan Mottet, president of the D.C. chapter of National Organization for Women, says she agrees that the D.C. Council’s decision is a step in the right direction.

“It’s going to create a massive, immediate turnaround,” Mottet says.

Mayor Vincent Gray says he is in support of the changes.

“I think it could be a model for other cities that have similar problems,” Dareshori says.

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