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SAFETI Adaptation Of Peace Corps Resources
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Administrative and Management Guidance

(Adapted from the Crisis Management Handbook: A Guide for Overseas Staff, Peace Corps Volunteer Safety Council)

1) Administrative Considerations

a) Be informed about legal requirements and procedures. The Resident Director and designated medical doctor could establish an easily accessible file that contains a memorandum or other documents describing in detail current local forensic medical requirements and legal procedures for prosecution of the alleged assailant in the case of a rape or attempted rape. The documents should address how rape is locally defined in that country, what constitutes the requisite forensic material, who can collect forensic material, how the forensic material must be handled to preserve its value, and the timing required for collection of the material and other evidence as well as the statue of limitations for prosecution. This information can be gathered through a consultation with local counsel as discussed below. (See also "Questions for Local Counsel".)

The resident Director should be familiar with the general requirements for prosecution and for gathering evidence, since it is his or her responsibility to have in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of these requirements. Also these requirements should be verified and updated annually.

b) Identify a local attorney for consultation. The Resident Director could identify a local attorney who can be contacted for emergency consultation and who can provide knowledgeable and experienced criminal attorney. The U.S. Embassy may have a list of local attorneys available for this purpose. Every attempt should be made to build and maintain a relationship with an attorney before a crisis occurs. The attorney's name address and telephone numbers (office and home) should be kept with the forensic and legal information collected and updated annually. The resident director could also obtain a referral to and meet with a criminal lawyer before any assault occurs, for aid in compiling the specific information described above. (Again, see "Questions for Local Counsel")

2) Student and Staff Training

a) Address assault prevention at the Pre-departure Orientation and at the Orientation. Both orientations could address assault prevention. The Resident Director and the Director for the Women's Center, etc. could work together to develop appropriate training strategies.


The safety and security needs of all students, the issue of confidentiality, and to urge prompt notifications to staff in case of rape and attempted rape could be discussed. Students should be made aware of the notification protocol. Their attention should be drawn to the obligation of a staff person who receives a report of a rape or attempted rape to report it immediately to the designated medical doctor. And the importance of such reports to preserving the safety of other students. They should also be advised of the fact that other staff members may have to be informed of the rape's location and pertinent circumstances, also in order to protect other students. The victim's name will be protected to the maximum extent possible.

b) Emphasize the importance of notification. It is important that a victim tell someone on the staff of a rape, so that she or he can receive appropriate support. It is also important to report an incident, so that staff can work to identify any steps available to reduce the risk to other students. For example, some areas of country (e.g., certain beaches, hostels or hotels) may be deemed unsafe as result of the report, and students should be so advised. These practical and positive results of notification should be emphasized in training.


1) Providing support to the victim.

a) Medical decisions. Medical decisions should be made with the help of a medical professional in the host country, the on-site resident director, and the study abroad administrator at the home institution in consultation with a medical professional at the home institution. The desires of the victim should be taken into account in any actions. Institutional policy and privacy issues may guide the amount of interaction with the victim's family and significant others.

b) What to communicate to the victim. All involved staff should give the victim, verbally and non-verbally, three messages:

I believe you;
You are not alone; and
We are sorry this happened to you

It is especially important never to blame the victim. Rather, staff should ask, "What can we do to help you?" The "victim" of rape will at some point also become a "survivor" of rape; staff should be cognizant of this transition. Host country staff unfamiliar with these issues may benefit from special training or discussion of supportive techniques. (A more complete discussion of the issues related to supporting the victim is contained in "Understanding and Supporting the Victim of a Rape.")

2) Keep notes of the report and all developments.

The Resident director could keep extensive and complete notes on the case because he or she will need to refer to them as the fog of memory thickens over time. The assaulted student should not be referred to by name in the notes; initials should be adequate.

3) Assessing the safety of the victim and other students.

The Resident Director could do the following to assure the safety of the victim and other students:

a) Make sure the victim is safe and feels safe. The Resident Director may consult with the victim, the US Embassy's Regional Security Officer (RSO) and others to determine how best to ensure the actual safety of the victim. The victim must also feel safe, however, and the Resident Director could take steps to allay the victim's fears to the extent possible.

1. In unusual cases, a security guard may be required at the location where the student is staying-possibly at the hospital. The Resident Director could authorize this expenditure. The RSO may need to be involved with this decision.

2. If the student's life is judged to be in danger for other than medical reasons, the Resident Director may institute emergency evacuation procedures to remove the victim from the country. The Resident Director could authorize this expenditure.

b) Assess any possible risk to other students and staff. If there is any reason to believe that other students or staff are at risk, the resident Director could immediately take appropriate action to ensure their safety.

4) Preserving the option to prosecute

a) Advise the victim of his or her legal rights and how best to preserve the option to prosecute. The Resident director is responsible for ensuring that the student has been advised of his or her legal rights, of the need for evidence, and other elements of preserving the option to prosecute. Local law may require that certain evidence be gathered and legal procedures be followed within a specified time frame after the assault; failure to carry out these procedures or to collect the evidence in a timely way could preclude prosecution at the later date. The possibility of prosecution, even though a final decision may not be made for some time thereafter. At all stages of investigation and prosecution, it is the victim's decision whether to participate in the legal proceedings; the victim cannot be compelled to participate in a prosecution.

b) Advise the victim of the public nature of the criminal proceedings. The victim should be advised that, if she or he decides to prosecute, the records will become public knowledge as the case proceeds though the judicial system. (The Resident Director should determine if there are any limits on this general rule in the applicable jurisdiction.)

c) Preserve the evidence to the extent possible. The student's physical and mental health take precedence over a prosecution. Consistent with this understanding, however, the Resident Director and medical doctor should take immediate steps, to the extent they are able, to preserve clothing and any other relevant material for tests. (Physical evidence that must be obtained from the victim can only be obtained with the victim's consent, of course.) Because of the legal issues related to chain of custody, such material should be maintained under lock and key. Consult local counsel for specific rules applicable in the jurisdiction.

d) If prosecution seems likely, retain local criminal counsel on behalf of the Student

5) Notification of US home institution

6) Notification of Embassy personnel

a) The Resident Director notifies RSO in accordance with protocol or individual understanding with RSO. As reflected in the notification summary, above, the Resident Director could promptly notify the RSO of the incident and location, but should not give the name of the victim.

b) Resident Director notifies Ambassador. The Resident Director should also inform the Ambassador of the assault, without giving the name of the student. Notification should be especially prompt if the victim wishes to prosecute or if the incident is likely to assume a high profile.

7) The Press

The Resident Director, in consultation with the Regional Director (if one exists) and US home institution Director, could discuss any press-related issues in-country with the Ambassador and/or the United States Information Service (USIS) public affairs officer. The Study Center staff should always encourage the press not to use the name or the initials of the student.


1) Providing support to the victim

a) Continue to provide emotional support to the victim. Consult the section called "Understanding and Supporting the Victim of a Rape" for a detailed description of the continuing issues related to the emotional state of the victim of a rape.

b) Urge the victim to agree to accept a suitable companion for a while. The Resident Director should urge the student to accept a suitable, constant companion who may be staff or another student of the student's choosing. The companion need not-and usually will not -be the Resident Director. The Resident Director could make every attempt to provide a suitable and constant companion for the victim, including in a hospital setting.

c) Offer other practical support to the victim. The resident Director could offer practical as well as emotional support to the victim. Practical support could include identifying and hiring a confidential interpreter; making oneself available (but not requiring) to accompany the victim to attorney meetings, depositions, examinations, suspect identification and other legal proceedings. Other useful support may include offering to obtain cash for expenses; providing clothes; providing a trip to the site to pick up belongings; finding a nice and safe place to stay temporarily; offering an escort to the site; making available at the Study Center expense phone calls to parents or other supportive individuals; offering to contact and obtain the company of other students who can provide support.

d) Support a decision to medevac. If the student is to be medevaced, the Resident Director should give full support to that decision and should not preclude future discussions about the student's subsequent return to the program.

e) Support the Student's family. The Resident Director should have the responsibility for supporting the student's family.

2) Communications between the study center and the US home institution.

a) The US home institution will designate a primary contact person at the home institution for use by US home institution in contacting the study center. One person in the US home institution will be designated the contact person. That person's task is to coordinate and centralize non-medical calls to the study center about the incident and to maintain one channel of communication. This is important to avoid confusion about the facts of the incident and the status of the matter. Regular, scheduled telephone calls between the study center and the US home institution to update those individuals with a need-to-know can be productive and can reduce the burden placed on the study center by repetitive calls from the US home institution.

b) Resident Director sets up direct telephone consultations with the US home institution as he or she needs. The Resident Director should call the US home institution staff directly as needed to receive specific information and counseling e.g. legal advice from university attorneys or investigate advice from the Study Abroad Director.

c) Press Coverage. The Resident Director should update the Office of Congressional relations and the Press Office regarding any press coverage in-country or in the US.

3) Involvement of Embassy personnel

a) Work with the RSO. The Resident Director could work with the RSO to ensure that the victim's needs and wishes are addressed and respected during any investigation or prosecution that results from the incident. They could also attempt to ensure that the victim is provided a confidential interpreter, an appropriate attorney, and is accompanied to any attorney or investigative meetings, suspect identification or legal proceedings (if the victim so desires).

b) Keep the Ambassador and USIS posted if there is press coverage. If the case has a high profile, the Ambassador and the USIA should be kept up-to-date on developments in the case. USIA can often work with the local press to reduce or suspend coverage, and to keep the name of the victim confidential, if there are compelling reasons for such a request.

c) The level of Embassy involvement can be expected to vary from incident to incident. The level of discussion and focus on the incident within the mission will vary, depending on how the mission collectively perceives the incident, e.g., if one or more other members of the program are concerned about their own well-being, there may be greater involvement.

d) Written communications should NOT contain the name of the victim. No cable or fax communications by the Resident Director, RSO or other embassy staff related to the incident should contain the victim's name.

4) Health and Security of Students and Staff

a) Work as a team at the Study Center, but preserve confidentiality. Given the many and possibly competing priorities in such a crisis, the Resident Director and staff should work as a team, holding regular update meetings to keep the team informed, while at the same time preserving the confidentiality of information unnecessary for the team to know.

b) Provide support to other students and staff. The resident Director should be aware that rapes and attempted rapes are potentially traumatic for others in addition to the actual victim. The Resident Director and other staff should be particularly aware that other students and staff may have been past victims of rape or attempted rape and may have special needs as a result of the assault and require additional support. This support will most often be sought from staff. For example some students may react to the incident without identifying the reaction as tied to the assault. (The document entitled "Understanding and Supporting the Victim of a Rape," contains relevant material related to delayed reactions that may be of use in considering how best to handle certain other students.)

c) Provide emotional support for staff. Supporting a rape victim is often stressful for the staff involved. The resident Director should be prepared for this possibility and offer or seek support as needed. The service of the State Department Regional Psychiatrist can be helpful in some circumstances for US staff. The Office of Special Services is also available to render support to staff.

d) Consider using State Department Training Resources as part of the response. The Mobile Training Team, which gives rape prevention and assault prevention training can be requested through the RSO. Such training can be a useful response to an assault that causes widespread concern.

5) During an investigation and prosecution

a) Consult with US home institution Study Abroad Director. During an investigation and prosecution, the Study Abroad Office is available to provide professional advice and guidance with respect to legal questions and investigative matters.

b) Retain and consult with local criminal lawyer. The Resident Director should identify and retain a criminal lawyer who is experienced, well-respected in legal and judicial circles, and able to manage and explain the intricacies of the local legal system to the student and to the Resident Director. This retention should be accomplished in consultation with the Study Abroad Center at the US home institution. Do not forget to consult the list of legal questions to discuss with local counsel.

c) Resident Director serves as the US home institution's point person for investigation and prosecution. The Resident Director should serve as the point person within the university. If the victim has left the program, completing the investigation may require a significant time commitment on the part of the Resident Director. It may also require support form the US home institution for contact with the victim, if she or he returns to the US.

d) A medically separated victim may return to the country, at the program's expense to provide testimony. A student who has been medically separated may return to the country at the program's expense to testify in a prosecution. The (former) student's travel should be coordinated through the US home institution.

e) Consider security implications of prosecution (and non-prosecution) for the victim, other students and staff. The Resident Director should consult with informed persons about whether prosecution (or failure to prosecute) and conviction (or failure of convict) would have any significant security implications for the victim or for other students. (For example, will family members of the perpetrator be inclined to take any retaliatory action?)

f) An outgoing Resident Director should ensure that an acting Resident Director or incoming Resident Director is fully informed about a prosecution or conviction. After completing the responsibility as a Resident Director or Program Director, in which a rape has occurred, an outgoing Resident Director/Program Director should ensure that the records of the incident are complete and current. He or she should also ensure that the acting Resident Director and the incoming Resident Director are fully briefed about the status of the case, including any sentence after conviction, and whether release of the assailant is pending. Such briefings may need to occur over the period of a number of years with each new Resident Director, depending on the length of any sentence that has been imposed on a convicted assailant.

(Adapted from the Crisis Management Handbook: A Guide for Overseas Staff, Peace Corps Volunteer Safety Council)