Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act Signed

The U.S. Peace Corps has experienced a large number of assaults on its volunteers overseas, especially sexual assaults, more than one thousand of which were reported between 2000 and 2009 out of a volunteer population that barely exceeded 8,000 in any of those years. And the Peace Corps as an institution has been accused of not handling volunteer safety and security well.

Yesterday, the Peace Corps Director announced that:

President Obama [has] signed into law the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011, codifying a number of the reforms the Peace Corps has put into place over the past two years to better protect and support Volunteers. The Act is named in honor of Kate Puzey, a Peace Corps volunteer who died while serving in Benin in 2009.

The new law codifies and expands many of the reforms the agency has put in place to enhance safety and security and ensure compassionate and effective response and support to all volunteers. The Peace Corps has:

• Hired a nationally recognized leader in victims’ rights to serve as the agency’s first victim advocate. Victims of crime can now turn to a skilled and experienced Peace Corps staff member dedicated to making certain volunteers receive the emotional, medical, legal, and other support they need both during and after their service.

Updated and expanded training for volunteers and staff on sexual assault awareness, risk-reduction strategies, bystander intervention, and reporting and response procedures.

Created an external body of leading experts in the field of sexual assault and returned Peace Corps volunteers to provide advice on Peace Corps’ sexual assault risk reduction and response strategies.

Established procedures to ensure that allegations by Peace Corps volunteers are handled confidentially and appropriately.


You can read the bill at the Library of Congress website, here.

In addition to codifying measures the Peace Corps already has in place, the law also creates a new requirement that will involve Diplomatic Security more directly with the safety and security of PC volunteers.

SEC. 7. CONFORMING SAFETY AND SECURITY AGREEMENT REGARDING PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS SERVING IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES.

(a) IN GENERAL.— Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the Peace Corps shall consult with the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security and enter into a memorandum of understanding that specifies the duties and obligations of the Peace Corps and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the Department of State with respect to the protection of Peace Corps volunteers and staff members serving in foreign countries, including with respect to investigations of safety and security incidents and crimes committed against volunteers and staff members.


This MOU will be something to watch. Exactly what duties and obligations concerning Peace Corps volunteers will DS pick up? And how much can anyone really do about volunteer safety and security, given the very isolated nature of volunteer assignments?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

TSB: In 2 wks it will be the 1 yr anniversary of Richard Holbrook's famous last words: "You have to get us out of Afghanistan!" Was the report he was putting the finishing touches on ever made public? My sense was that he not only wasn't listened to but that the horses were galloping in the other direction. (Like toward Lindsey Graham!) Did that report get buried? gwb

Anonymous said...

Diplopundit is on top of the war situation in Tehran and Pakistan. That guy must have a big staff or a terrible case of obsessive compulsive posting disorder! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Ever heard of Baron Von Reuter? R.Fisk reviews British-Iranian exploits! snp "the Brits wisely kept their ambitions in check by calling it Operation Boot. MI6's agent in Tehran was Colonel Monty Woodhouse, previously our Special Operations Executive man inside German-occupied Greece. I knew "Monty" well – we co-operated together when I investigated the grim wartime career of ex-UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim – and he was a ruthless man." http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-sanctions-are-only-a-small-part-of-the-history-that-makes-iranians-hate-the-uk-6269812.html gwb

TSB said...

I didn't know about Reuter and the Persian railroads, but I knew that the Iranians consider the Brits their most devious nemesis.

Regarding Operation Ajax, did you hear Ron Paul ask his co-panelists at a GOP foreign policy debate whether any of them remebered that Iran was once, briefly, a democracy? I think the remark passed right over their heads.

Anonymous said...

That's the trouble with secret government. You sound like an idiot
talking about something the CIA did in 1953 because the CIA hasn't yet admitted it. (btw, NYT and Independent stopped asking me to pay to read.) gwb

TSB said...

Whether admitted or not, you can read all about it, thanks to FOIA.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB28/

There is also a memoir:

http://www.amazon.com/Countercoup-Struggle-Control-Kermit-Roosevelt/dp/0070535930

Anonymous said...

TSB: Check out that debt clock! gwb
http://www.financialarmageddon.com/
Things just changed really fast!

"US Debt/GDP Hits Post WW2 High 99.5% Following $55 Billion Overnight Debt Increase: Total Debt Now Over $15.1 Trillion"

TSB said...

$15.1 trillion now? I hope that figures gets mentioned in the GOP primaries.

Anonymous said...

Primaries? Didn't Newt win? My mistake. I got this tweet from Newt and thought he already won.
Who do you think for Veep? And how about Cain for Sec-State? We need someone who likes to wander. (I mean travel!)gwb

TSB said...

Paul / Cain is my dream ticket!

Anonymous said...

Wow! That's a shocker TSB!
-Rand Paul: Sen Majority Leader?
-Ralph Nader: Atty General
-Elizabeth Warren- Federal Reserve Chairwoman
-Secy of Defense?
-US Olympic Comittee- Mitt Romney
-Sec. of State?
gwb

TSB said...

Just so long as Barney Frank stays around DC as Chief of Protocol.

Anonymous said...

I think Barney has a strong interest in protecting children from Pedophile Christian Athletic coaches... and that's going to need to be a national bipartisan effort. (Michelle Bachman?)gwb