H.R. 2337 (112th): Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Jun 23, 2011 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2337

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 23, 2011

(for himself, Mr. Berman, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, Mr. Costa, Mr. Farr, Ms. Tsongas, Mr. Rohrabacher, Mr. Connolly of Virginia, Mr. Faleomavaega, Ms. Buerkle, Ms. Wilson of Florida, Mr. Doggett, Mr. Capuano, and Ms. Speier) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL

To amend the Peace Corps Act to require sexual assault risk-reduction and response training, the development of sexual assault protocol and guidelines, the establishment of victims advocates, the establishment of a Sexual Assault Advisory Council, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011.

2.

Peace Corps volunteer protection

The Peace Corps Act is amended by inserting after section 8 (22 U.S.C. 2507) the following new sections:

8A.

Sexual assault risk-reduction and response training

(a)

In general

As part of the training provided to all volunteers under section 8(a), the Director of the Peace Corps shall develop and implement comprehensive sexual assault risk-reduction and response training that conforms to best practices in the sexual assault field as appropriate for first responders and other staff.

(b)

Development and consultation with experts

In developing the sexual assault risk-reduction and response training under subsection (a), the Director of the Peace Corps shall consult with and incorporate, as appropriate, the recommendations and views of experts in the sexual assault field.

(c)

Subsequent training

Once a trainee has arrived in such trainee’s country of service, the Director of the Peace Corps shall provide such trainee with training tailored to such country, including cultural training relating to gender relations, risk-reduction strategies, a safety plan in the event of an assault, treatment available in such country (such as forensic rape exams, PEP for HIV exposure, STD screening, and pregnancy testing), MedEvac procedures, and information regarding the legal process for pressing charges against an attacker.

(d)

Historical analysis

The Director of the Peace Corps shall provide each applicant for enrollment with a historical analysis of crimes and risks against volunteers in the country in which the applicant has been invited to serve.

(e)

Contact information

The Director of the Peace Corps shall provide each trainee, before each such trainee enrolls as a volunteer, with—

(1)

the contact information of the Inspector General of the Peace Corps for purposes of reporting violations of the sexual assault protocol under section 8B or any other criminal or administrative wrongdoing by volunteers, personnel (including experts and consultants), or other individuals (including contractors) who do business with the Peace Corps; and

(2)

clear, written guidelines regarding whom to contact, including the direct telephone number for a victim advocate and what steps to take in the event of a sexual assault.

(f)

Definitions

In this section and sections 8B through 8G:

(1)

Assault

(A)

In general

The term assault means an act that—

(i)

creates an apprehension in an individual of an imminent, harmful, or offensive contact; or

(ii)

is a harmful or offensive touching.

(B)

Inclusion

The term assault includes stalking and sexual assault.

(2)

Sexual assault

The term sexual assault means any conduct described in chapter 109A of title 18, United States Code, relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual contact, whether or not the conduct occurs in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and includes both assaults committed by offenders who are strangers to the victim and assaults committed by offenders who are known or related by blood or marriage to the victim.

(3)

Stalking

The term stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to—

(A)

fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or

(B)

suffer substantial emotional distress.

(4)

Inclusion of trainees

The term volunteers includes trainees.

8B.

Sexual assault protocol and guidelines

(a)

In general

The Director of the Peace Corps shall develop and implement comprehensive sexual assault protocol and guidelines that—

(1)

conform to best practices in the sexual assault field; and

(2)

are applicable to all posts at which volunteers serve.

(b)

Development and consultation with experts

In developing the sexual assault policy under subsection (a), the Director of the Peace Corps shall consult with and incorporate, as appropriate, the recommendations and views of experts in the sexual assault field.

(c)

Elements

The sexual assault protocol and guidelines developed under subsection (a) shall include, at a minimum, the following services with respect to a volunteer who has been a victim of sexual assault:

(1)

Protection of such volunteer’s confidentiality.

(2)

Provision of a victim’s advocate to such volunteer.

(3)

Provision of a sexual assault forensic evidence kit to such volunteer upon request.

(4)

Provision of emergency health care to such volunteer, including, to the greatest extent practicable, a choice of medical providers and a mechanism for such volunteer to evaluate such provider.

(5)

Provision of counseling and psychiatric medication.

(6)

Completion of a safety and treatment plan with such volunteer.

(7)

Evacuation of such volunteer, accompanied by a Peace Corps staffer at the request of such volunteer.

(8)

An explanation to such volunteer of available law enforcement, prosecutorial options, and legal representation.

(d)

Distribution and training

The Director of the Peace Corps shall distribute to and train all in-country staff regarding the sexual assault protocol and guidelines developed under subsection (a).

(e)

Removal and assessment and evaluation

(1)

In general

If a volunteer feels at risk of imminent bodily harm and requests removal from the site in which such volunteer is serving, the Director of the Peace Corps shall, as expeditiously as practical after receiving such request, remove such volunteer from such site. If the Director of the Peace Corps receives such a request, the Director of the Peace Corps shall assess and evaluate the safety of such site and may not assign another volunteer to such site until such time as such assessment and evaluation is complete and such site has been determined to be safe.

(2)

Determination of site as unsafe

Volunteers may remain at a site during an assessment and evaluation under paragraph (1). If the Director the Peace Corps determines that a site is unsafe, the Director of the Peace Corps shall, as expeditiously as practical, remove all volunteers from such site.

(f)

Sexual assault response teams

The Director of the Peace Corps shall establish sexual assault response teams, including Safety and Security Officers, medical staff, and a victim advocate, that can respond to reports of sexual assault against a volunteer.

(g)

Case review

The Director of the Peace Corps shall conduct case reviews of a statistically significant number of cases on a quarterly basis to determine if proper procedures were followed in accordance with the sexual assault protocols and guidelines developed under subsection (a) and including the elements specified in subsection (c).

(h)

Tracking and recording

The Director of the Peace Corps shall establish a global tracking and recording system to track and record incidents of assault against volunteers.

(i)

Prohibition on combining incidents

The Director of the Peace Corps may not combine into one incident for purposes of tracking and recording under subsection (h) reports by different volunteers of assault against such volunteers even if such assaults were committed by one individual against such volunteers at any one time.

(j)

Alternative systems

The Director of the Peace Corps shall establish an alternative reporting system and hotline access system through which volunteers who are victims of assault can report and receive support on an anonymous basis. Such alternative systems shall be published in the Volunteer Handbook.

8C.

Victims advocates

(a)

Victims advocates

(1)

In general

The Director of the Peace Corps shall assign a certified victims advocate in Peace Corps headquarters who shall report directly to the Director. The Director of the Peace Corps shall assign not fewer than three additional certified victims advocates to assist such victims advocate. Such additional victims advocates shall have regional expertise and may be posted abroad if such victims advocate determines that such is necessary.

(2)

Prohibition

Peace Corps Medical Officers, Safety and Security Officers, and program staff may not serve as victims advocates. The victims advocate and additional victims advocates may not have any other duties in the Peace Corps.

(3)

Exemption

The victims advocate and additional victims advocates shall be exempt from the five year rule on appointments and assignments under section 7.

(b)

Responsibilities

The victims advocate and additional victims advocates shall help develop and implement the sexual assault risk-reduction and response training described in section 8A and the sexual assault protocol and guidelines described in section 8B and ensure such training and such protocol and guidelines are being properly updated and followed. The victims advocate and additional victims advocates shall assist volunteers who are victims of assault by making such victims aware of the services specified in section 8B(c) available to them and facilitating their access to such services.

(c)

Status updates

The victims advocate and additional victims advocates shall provide to volunteers who are victims of assault regular updates on the status of their cases if such volunteers have opted to pursue prosecution.

(d)

Transition

A victims advocate who is working with a volunteer who is a victim of assault and who relocates back to the United States shall assist such volunteer to receive the services specified in section 8B(c) required by such volunteer, including through the duration of the claim with the Department of Labor, even after such volunteer is medically separated.

8D.

Establishment of Sexual Assault Advisory Council

(a)

Establishment

There is established in the Peace Corps a Sexual Assault Advisory Council (in this section referred to as the Council).

(b)

Membership

The Council shall be composed of individuals selected by the Director of the Peace Corps who are returned volunteers (including volunteers who were victims of sexual assault and volunteers who were not victims of sexual assault) and governmental and nongovernmental experts and professionals in the sexual assault field.

(c)

Functions; Meetings

The Council shall meet not less often than annually to review the sexual assault risk-reduction and response training developed under section 8A, sexual assault policy developed under section 8B, and the confidentiality policy developed under section 8F to ensure that such training and policies conform to best practices in the sexual assault field.

(d)

Reports

The Council shall annually submit to the Director of the Peace Corps and the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate a report on its findings based on the reviews conducted pursuant to subsection (c).

(e)

Federal employees

Members of the Council shall not be considered Federal employees for any purpose and shall not receive compensation other than reimbursement of travel expenses and per diem allowance.

(f)

Nonapplicability of FACA

The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the Council.

8E.

Volunteer feedback and Peace Corps review

(a)

Monitoring and evaluation

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this section, the Director of the Peace Corps shall establish goals, metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans for all Peace Corps programs and Country Directors. Monitoring and evaluation plans shall incorporate best practices from monitoring and evaluation studies and analyses.

(b)

Annual volunteer surveys

The Director of the Peace Corps shall annually conduct a confidential survey of volunteers regarding the effectiveness of Peace Corps programs and staff and the safety of volunteers.

(c)

Peace Corps Inspector General

The Inspector General of the Peace Corps shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate the following:

(1)

A biennial report on reports received from volunteers relating to misconduct, mismanagement, or policy violations of Peace Corps staff, any breaches of the confidentiality of volunteers, and any actions taken to assure the safety of volunteers who provide such reports.

(2)

A report, not later than two years after the date of the enactment of this section and every five years thereafter, evaluating the effectiveness and implementation of the assault risk-reduction and response training developed under section 8A and the sexual assault protocol and guidelines developed under section 8B.

(3)

A trend analysis every three years of the annual volunteer surveys, including actions taken in response to such surveys.

(4)

A report, not later than two years after the date of the enactment of this section, describing how Country Directors are hired, how Country Directors are terminated, and how Country Directors hire staff.

(d)

Evaluation defined

For purposes of this section, the term evaluation means the systematic collection and analysis of information about the characteristics and outcomes of programs and projects as a basis for judgments, to improve effectiveness, or inform decisions about current and future programming.

8F.

Nondisclosure of confidential or private information

(a)

In general

The Director of the Peace Corps shall establish and maintain a process to allow volunteers to report incidents of assault, incidents of misconduct or mismanagement, or violations of any policy, of the Peace Corps in order to protect the confidentiality in accordance with subsection (c) and safety of such volunteers and of the information reported, and to ensure that such information is acted on appropriately. The Director of the Peace Corps shall train all volunteers and staff about this process.

(b)

Guidance

The Director of the Peace Corps shall provide guidance to officers and employees of the Peace Corps who have access to the information reported by volunteers under subsection (a) in order to protect against the inappropriate disclosure of such information and ensure the safety of such volunteers.

(c)

Nondisclosure

(1)

In general

Except as provided in paragraphs (1) and (2), the Director of the Peace Corps may not—

(A)

disclose any personally identifying information or personal information of a volunteer who is a victim of assault collected in connection with services requested, utilized, or denied through Peace Corps programs; or

(B)

reveal such information without the informed, purpose-limited, and reasonably time-limited consent of such volunteer about whom such information is sought.

(2)

Release

If the release of information described in paragraph (1) is authorized by statute or compelled by court order, the Director of the Peace Corps shall—

(A)

make reasonable attempts to provide notice to the volunteer with respect to whom such information is being released; and

(B)

take such action as is necessary to protect the privacy and safety of such volunteer.

(3)

Information sharing

The Director of the Peace Corps may share—

(A)

nonpersonally identifying information in the aggregate regarding services to volunteers and nonpersonally identifying demographic information in order to comply with reporting, evaluation, or data collection requirements;

(B)

nonpersonally indentifying information that would protect the safety of volunteers;

(C)

court-generated information and law-enforcement generated information contained in secure, governmental registries for protection order enforcement purposes; and

(D)

law enforcement- and prosecution-generated information necessary for law enforcement and prosecution purposes.

(d)

Definition

In this section, the terms personally identifying information and personal information mean information for or about a volunteer who is a victim of assault, including information likely to disclose the location of such victim, including the following:

(1)

A first and last name.

(2)

A home or other physical address.

(3)

Contact information (including a postal, email, or Internet protocol address, or telephone or facsimile number).

(4)

A social security number.

(5)

Any other information, including date of birth, racial or ethnic background, or religious affiliation, that, in combination with paragraphs (1) through (4), would serve to identify such victim.

8G.

Reporting requirements

(a)

In general

The Director of the Peace Corps shall annually submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate a report summarizing information on—

(1)

sexual assault against volunteers;

(2)

assault against volunteers; and

(3)

the annual rate of early termination of volunteers, including, to the maximum extent practicable, demographic data associated with such early termination.

(b)

GAO

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this section, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate a report evaluating the quality and accessibility of health care provided through the Department of Labor to returned volunteers upon their separation from the Peace Corps.

(c)

Access to communications

(1)

In general

The Director of the Peace Corps, in coordination with all Country Directors, shall determine the level of access to communication, including cellular and Internet access, of each volunteer.

(2)

Report

Not later than six months after the date of the enactment of this section, the Director of the Peace Corps shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate a report on the costs of providing all volunteers with access to adequate communication, including cellular service and Internet access.

(d)

Report on monitoring and evaluation

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this section and annually thereafter, the Director of the Peace Corps shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate a report on the monitoring and evaluation of Peace Corps programs and Country Directors, including information on the following:

(1)

A description of the monitoring and evaluation activities conducted in the preceding year.

(2)

A forecast of the monitoring and evaluation activities planned for the subsequent year.

(3)

A description of the ways in which the results of the monitoring and evaluation activities have informed the design and operation of development policies and programs during the preceding year.

.

3.

Conforming amendments

(a)

Inclusion of sexual assault risk-Reduction and response training

The Peace Corps Act is amended—

(1)

in section 5(a) (22 U.S.C. 2504(a)), in the second sentence, by inserting (including training under section 8A) after training; and

(2)

in section 8(a) (22 U.S.C. 2507(a)), in the first sentence, by inserting , including training under section 8A, after training.

(b)

Certain services

Section 5(e) of the Peace Corps Act (22 U.S.C. 2504(e)) is amended, in the first sentence—

(1)

by inserting (including, if necessary, for such volunteers and for trainees, services under section 8C) after health care; and

(2)

by inserting including services provided in accordance with section 8C (except that the six-month limitation shall not apply in the case of such services) before as the President.