7 FAM 1920
CONSULAR OFFICER ROLES WITH RESPECT TO VICTIMS OF SERIOUS CRIMES
(Office of Origin: CA/OCS)
7 FAM 1921 WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE CONSULAR OFFICER?
PHYSICAL SAFETY OF THE VICTIM AND HIS OR HER SENSE OF SECURITY, ALONG WITH YOUR OWN, ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CONCERNS.
a. In many serious and violent crime cases abroad, the victims and/or family and friends look to you for assistance because they may not know how things work in a foreign country. You must be empathetic when helping either the victim or his/her family or friends. They may be scared, frustrated and/or overwhelmed emotionally trying to deal with the victimization in an unfamiliar, foreign environment with none of their usual support systems available. See 7 FAM 1930 or the Victim Assistance pages on CAWeb for additional resources. .
b. The Consular Section at post should explain what post can and cannot do for the victim so he/she will have the information to help make necessary decisions. Some victims choose not to report the crime, but may still need assistance and information. The information should include contact information for local medical facilities, law enforcement, shelters, in-country victim advocate resources, etc. Legal systems outside of the United States vary, and it is likely that many U.S. citizens who are victims of crime abroad will not be familiar with the basic protections and standards of treatment for victims in your country. If your mission wishes to develop a country specific information sheet for victims, post must contact your CA/OCS/ACS officer prior to developing and routinely updating this information sheet annually or sooner as needed.
c. Reference Guide:
(1) Establish immediate contact with the victim, or in the event the victim dies, the victim’s family;
(2) Assess and address safety issues and immediate emergency medical and physical needs of the victim in coordination with local authorities;
NOTE: For victims of sexual assault this specifically includes ensuring the victim has access to emergency HIV prophylaxis and emergency contraception. If these medications are not available in your country seek urgent guidance from CA/OCS/ACS.
(3) Express empathy that the victimization occurred or condolences for the family’s loss, and validate their reactions to the traumatic event;
(4) Assist the victim with immediate basic needs, such as shelter, food, and clothing;
(5) Report the incident to CA/OCS/ACS by email or by phone if immediate assistance is required;
(6) Establish a proactive approach in which the victim or family talks primarily to one person who is responsible for communication about the case. A country officer in CA/OCS/ACS responsible for the region can assist with communication as necessary;
(7) Document the case as a Welfare and Whereabouts services, subcategory Victims Assistance in the ACS Software Application;
(8) Involve local crime victim assistance specialty programs where available and appropriate, e.g., rape crisis intervention, child protective services, shelters for battered women, and other victim support services;
(9) Consult with CA/OCS/ACS to identify additional resources that can be provided, including referral to specialized victim assistance programs and crime victim compensation in the United States;
(10) Provide the victim with information about local points of contact (POCs) or organizations who can discuss relevant host country laws and implementation of those laws;
(11)If the victim wishes to report the crime, assist the victim with making a police report; (NOTE: Reporting is at the discretion of the victim after they have been made aware of the process and any potential obligations associated with reporting, officers should not encourage or pressure the victim to report or not report to local authorities)
(12) Ascertain the status of the police investigation into the incident and request a copy of the police report to provide to the victim, with translation if possible;
(13) Assist the victim with the practical consequences of the crime, such as facilitating contact with family and/or arranging for a prompt return home, issuance of Emergency Passport, etc.;
(14) Help the victim regain control of his/her life by providing information about what to expect in the immediate future (anticipated treatment, changes in hotel arrangements, law enforcement reporting and next steps, and how the return of any recovered stolen property is handled, etc.);
(15)Share information about the status of their case in the local criminal justice process when applicable; and
(16) See 7 FAM 1932 for further guidance regarding specific crimes.
Listen to the citizen’s report of what happened and provide information about help in accessing local sources of assistance.
Observe the citizen’s behavior, words, and demeanor, and offer appropriate assistance.
Report the case to CA/OCS/ACS in objective terms,
Coordinate with host country authorities.
Provide the citizen with information about resources for crime victims available in the United States.
Relay information to family, friends, Congressional offices, etc., consistent with the Privacy Act. See the CA Web Privacy Act Feature.
Assist families and friends in sending money to victims through an OCS Trust and provide information and assistance regarding the Repatriation/EMDA loan programs
See 7 FAM 300.
YOU MAY NOT:
Act as a social worker, counselor, or legal adviser.
Pledge the expenditure of U.S. government funds in payment of expenses for transport or care for a patient beyond what is available under the repatriation/EMDA programs. See 7 FAM 300.
7 FAM 1922 WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE CA/OCS CRIME VICTIM ASSISTANCE UNIT?
a. Promote consistency in our response to U.S. victims of all serious crimes abroad through “Crime Victim Assistance Training”, PC124a, the CAWeb Victim Assistance resource pages, and additional in person and web based trainings.
b. Assist posts in better understanding the impact of crime on victims, the range of services that may be necessary and available and how they may be accessed, key principles of victim assistance, and the importance of being proactive in serious crime cases.
c. Provide posts with information about medical and emotional needs of victims of crime.
d. Provide posts and CA/OCS/ACS with information and suggestions for appropriate resources in individual cases and serve as liaison with other government agencies.
e. Promote consistent ACS+ reporting of serious crime incidents involving U.S. citizens.
f. Maintain reference lists of help providers in each state.
7 FAM 1923 WHAT IS THE ROLE OF CA/OCS/ACS?
a. Assist posts with communication with family or friends of an incident that may have involved their relative/friend, or advise posts of an inquiry from family, friends, employers, etc. about a U.S. citizen abroad who may have become a victim of a crime in accordance the Privacy Act. See 7 FAM 1924 for further information.
b. Coordinate with other government agencies on repatriation of crime victims in the United States and refer victims to appropriate services.
c. Refer victims returning to the United States to appropriate crime victim assistance programs and state crime victim compensation programs that may pay for medical treatment, counseling, funerals, and other expenses as a payer of last resort.
d. Work with family members of child abuse victims and assist in arranging comprehensive multi-disciplinary evaluations and treatment at children’s advocacy centers in the United States, and facilitate contacts with crime victim compensation programs.
7 FAM 1924 ARE THERE LIMITATIONS ON CONSULAR OFFICERS REGARDING VICTIMS OF CRIMES AND DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION (PRIVACY ACT of 1974)?
a. Information contained in a name-retrievable system of records concerning a U.S. citizen/national victim of a crime may not be disclosed by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency except:
(1) By written authorization from the individual who is the subject of the record; and
(2) In accordance with conditions of disclosure in the Privacy Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(1)-(12)) and within the Department’s Prefatory Statement of Routine Uses and the CA/OCS System of Records Notice (SORN-05).
b. In a victim of crime situation, disclosure could potentially be permissible under one of the following statutory exceptions:
(1) 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(3) - for a "Routine Use” published in the Federal Register, which is either in the Department’s prefatory statement or the CA/OCS System of Records Notice; or
(2) 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(8), (health or safety of an individual) “to a person pursuant to a showing of compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety of an individual if upon such disclosure notification is transmitted to the last known address of such individual.” The health or safety condition of disclosure makes it possible to release information about the victim of a serious crime without a Privacy Act waiver under compelling circumstances. The information, however, may only be released to those reasonably expected to assist the U.S. citizen victim. A notification of all disclosures must be sent to the last known address of the victim. See 7 FAM 060.
c. For Privacy Act questions email ASK-OCS-L@state.gov
d. See the CA/OCS Intranet Privacy Act Feature. See also the Privacy Act Tab in the Consular Assistance to Victims of Crime Resource Notebook for other Privacy Act considerations in crime victim cases and 7 FAM 060 (Privacy).
e. See 7 FAM 1940 Reporting crime victim cases.
7 FAM 1925 through 1929 UNASSIGNED