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VICTIM ASSISTANCE GUIDE

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VICTIM ASSISTANCE GUIDE

    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

    Establishing Country-Based Mechanisms for Assisting Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN/NGO/IGO Staff and Related Personnel

    April 2009

    Produced by the ECHA/ECPS UN and NGO Task Force

    on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

    Inside the Guide

Feedback Form

    Section 1 Introduction

    Section 2 What is an SEA Victim Assistance Mechanism?

    a. Country-wide survivor-centred approach

    b. Who should receive assistance and support?

    c. What assistance and support should be provided?

    d. How should assistance and support be provided? Section 3 Tools

     Tool 1 Principles to guide the establishment of SEA Victim Assistance

    Mechanisms

     Tool 2 How can persons eligible for assistance enter the SEA Victim Assistance

    Mechanism?

     Tool 3 Do’s and Don’ts

    Section 4 How to establish the SEA Victim Assistance Mechanism?

    a. Who should establish and coordinate it?

    b. How should it be established?

    c. How should it be financed?

    Annexes

    1 Resources

    2 Glossary

    3 Terms of Reference for Victim Support Facilitators 4 Statement of Commitment on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by

    UN and Non-UN Personnel

    5 Victim Assistance Strategy ? UN General Assembly Resolution 62/214

    April 2009 Page 2

    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

    FEEDBACK FORM:

    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

Date: _________________________

1) Did you use this Guide to develop and/or work with a mechanism to assist survivors of

    sexual exploitation and abuse by UN/NGO/IGO personnel?

     Yes No Explain:

    2) Does the Guide clearly explain how to establish and operate SEA/VAMs?

     Yes No Explain:

    3) What additional information/charts/tools would be useful for your work on SEA/VAMs?

    4) Would you prefer the Guide to be different in any way?

     Yes No Explain (be specific):

    5) Additional remarks? (These may be on both content and format.)

If you would be willing to speak with someone regarding your feedback, please provide your contact info:

    Name: ___________________ Job title and organization: ________________ Address: _______________________________________________________ Phone/e-mail: ___________________________________________________

    Please send this form to:

    E-mail: seatf@un.org Fax: +1 917 367 5274

    Gender Advisory Team, Policy Development and Studies Branch,

    Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations,

    New York, NY 10017, USA

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    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

    Section 1: Introduction

    Since sexual exploitation and abuse at the hands of personnel of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (SEA) came to the forefront of public attention in 2002, the UN/NGO community has increasingly recognized the need to provide assistance to SEA victims. In December 2006, the United Nations and NGOs alike committed to doing so in a Statement of Commitment on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN and Non-UN Personnel (see Annex 3). A year later, in December 2007, the United Nations General Assembly helped strengthen this commitment by adopting a resolution requiring the UN to assist and support victims of sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by UN staff and related personnel (GA resolution 62/214, see Annex 3). In order to implement this resolution, an SEA Victim Assistance Mechanism (SEA/VAM) needs to be established in every country in which the UN operates. In light of these developments, the UN and NGOs have worked together through an inter-agency task force to formulate a joint approach to victim assistance. This joint approach, described in the present guide, is grounded in but also expands upon the UN resolution so as to include the full community of the UN, NGOs and inter-governmental organizations (IGOs).

    Victim assistance vs. Survivor assistance

In order to conform with the use of the term “victim” by the UN General Assembly in

    the context of SEA assistance programming, the present guide uses the term “victim assistance”. It should be noted, however, that developers of SEA assistance programmes in compliance with the GA resolution are free to determine whether to employ the term

    “survivor assistance” or “victim assistance”. The terms “survivors” or “persons

    victimized by SEA” used in this guide refer to all persons eligible for assistance through an SEA/VAM.

Purpose of this Guide

    This booklet offers guidance on how to establish an SEA/VAM to assist and support survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN/NGO/IGO staff and related personnel. Each country will develop its own SEA/VAM to assist survivors according to its local context. The mechanisms of assistance may vary between and even within countries, however there are a number of fixed characteristics and components shared by all SEA/VAMs. The present guide identifies and explains these common traits.

    SPECIAL NOTE

    The SEA Victim Assistance Mechanism does not replace or negate the responsibility of perpetrators of acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, who should be held accountable for

    their actions both legally and financially. The assistance provided by the United Nations

    or any other organization does not in any way diminish or replace individual

    responsibility. Likewise, the provision of assistance does not serve as an acknowledgment

    of the validity of the claims, a form of compensation nor an indication of acceptance of

    responsibility by the alleged perpetrator.

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    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

    Section 2: What is an SEA Victim Assistance Mechanism?

    SEA Victim Assistance Mechanisms (SEA/VAMs) help persons victimized by sexual exploitation and abuse to access the services they need as a result of such abuse.

Country-wide survivor-centred approach

    Assistance and support should be consistently provided to all survivors of SEA perpetrated by UN/NGO/IGO staff and related personnel, regardless of the agency, department or organization associated with a specific SEA incident. In order to achieve this, there should

    be a system-wide victim assistance mechanism in each country serving all survivors of SEA by UN/NGO/IGO staff and related personnel (further referred to as staff and

    related personnel).

    This system-wide programming is rooted in a survivor-centered approach. Such approach acknowledges that survivors are usually less concerned with the distinctions between different parts of the UN/NGO/IGO community than they are with accessing services through clear and simple procedures and in a fair manner.

    Covering the UN/NGO/IGO community

    In circumstances where it is not possible to develop a mechanism that covers all survivors of SEA by staff and related personnel in a given country, there should be a mechanism in place that covers at least survivors of SEA by UN staff and related personnel. As a next

    step, protocols should be developed between the United Nations, NGOs and IGOs to ensure that the level of care is consistent for all in each given location, regardless of the alleged perpetrator’s UN, NGO or IGO affiliation.

    In countries with a Resident Coordinator (RC), the SEA/VAM should be operated under his or her auspices, with support from the United Nations Country Team and, where applicable, from the United Nations Mission and Humanitarian Country Team. This falls within the sexual exploitation and abuse responsibilities of the RC’s job description.

    “[T]he RC is responsible for ensuring that a network of focal points for the implementation of the provision contained in the SG’s Bulletin on special measures for

    protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse is operational and supporting the

    development and implementation of a country-level action plan to address the issue.

    UN Resident Coordinator Generic Job Description, 29 January 2009

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    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

    Who should receive assistance and support?

Assistance and support should be provided to all persons victimized by staff or related

    personnel of UN/NGOs/IGOs (further referred to as “entity”). Related personnel refers

    to consultants, volunteers (including United Nations Volunteers), individual contractors, personnel of partner organizations, experts on mission (e.g. UN Police, Military Observers) and peacekeeping uniformed personnel (i.e. military contingents).

    Three categories of persons victimized by sexual exploitation and sexual abuse should receive assistance and support under an SEA/VAM: complainants, victims and children

    born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse.

    Complainants are persons who allege or are alleged to have been sexually exploited or abused by UN/NGO/IGO staff or related personnel before such allegations have been substantiated or dismissed through either a UN/NGO/IGO administrative process or a governmental judicial process. To receive assistance as a “complainant,” the allegation

    should be officially registered in accordance with established procedures of the relevant entity, e.g. through Conduct and Discipline Teams in peacekeeping operations. This should be done either prior to entering the SEA/VAM or within a reasonable time period once entered into the SEA/VAM. However, the complainant does not need to identify the perpetrator if s/he is unable to do so, nor does s/he need to agree to cooperate with investigative processes in order to receive assistance. It is sufficient to make the allegation in order to receive assistance. In some cases certain types of assistance, such as urgent medical care, will need to be provided before an allegation can be fully processed. Should a person not wish to have his/her allegation officially registered, s/he should receive emergency assistance in the same manner as other survivors of violence, particularly gender-based violence (GBV).

    Victims are persons whose claims of sexual exploitation or abuse by UN/NGO/IGO staff or related personnel have been substantiated through either a UN/NGO/IGO administrative process or a governmental judicial process. All persons in such circumstances fall under this category, regardless of their sex and age.

Children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse are children who are found

    by a court of law in any country with jurisdiction be this the host country, the country of

    origin of the staff or related personnel or otherwise to have been born as a result of sexual

    exploitation or abuse by staff or related personnel.

    All persons included in any of the categories above should receive assistance and support regardless of when the claim was submitted and whether their cases predate the establishment of the SEA/VAM.

What assistance and support should be provided?

The SEA/VAM provides assistance and support with respect to medical, legal,

    psychosocial and immediate material care as well as the facilitation of the pursuit of paternity and child support claims. Direct financial assistance should not be provided

    under the SEA/VAM. The nature and scope of the assistance to be provided is determined

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    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

    on a case-by-case basis and depends on the services which are locally available to other GBV survivors. Guidelines are available from the UN and NGOs (see Annex 1 for examples).

    Assistance and support is to be offered based on individual needs directly arising

    from sexual exploitation or abuse.

For complainants

Complainants should be provided with basic assistance and support. Basic assistance

    refers to services and treatment which cannot await the substantiation of claims. In many cases, for example, complainants will need to be helped to access medical treatment to meet urgent needs resulting from the suffered sexual exploitation or abuse. Given that some of the more damaging consequences of sexual exploitation and abuse can be greatly reduced or even prevented if medical assistance is provided within 72 hours from the time of the abuse, complainants may need to be helped to access medical care in a timely manner. This applies, for example, for the prevention of certain sexually transmitted infections, such as through provision of HIV/AIDS Post Exposure Prophylaxis kits, where available. Similarly, emergency medical care may also be needed to treat injuries resulting from the abuse suffered.

    In addition, complainants should be helped to access psychological counselling when needed to address, for instance, trauma suffered as a result of sexual exploitation or abuse. Complainants should be helped to find shelter, clothing or food when the suffered sexual exploitation or abuse impedes them from using their own. They should be provided with protection if their security is at risk. Complainants should also be assisted or referred for assistance with to understand how to pursue claims, both administrative and legal, against the alleged perpetrators. Beyond referrals, the SEA/VAM should help complainants navigate the relevant entity’s administrative process in pursuit of their claims. To do so, it should

    inform complainants of the options available at each stage of the process and of actions taken in their cases.

For victims

Once a person’s claim has been substantiated, that person’s status shifts from complainant

    to victim. At this point s/he can receive not only the basic assistance described above, but also additional help referred to as expanded assistance and support to address the broad

    range of consequences of sexual exploitation or abuse. For example, in the case of a girl who has to drop out of school upon becoming pregnant as a result of sexual exploitation or abuse, the SEA/VAM could assist her to access alternative educational or vocational programmes on income-generating skills so that she can support herself and her child. All assistance to victims is to be provided according to both the specific needs resulting directly from sexual exploitation or abuse and the services locally available to other GBV survivors.

    The SEA/VAM should also facilitate the pursuit of paternity and child support claims for victims, where desired and legally applicable. This should be undertaken in conjunction with the relevant national governments be they the host government, the government of the

    country of nationality of the alleged perpetrator or otherwise. The process may include the

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    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

    coordination of DNA testing, which may take the form of DNA test financing or direct DNA collection, among others.

    If paternity is substantiated during pregnancy, the SEA/VAM can assist the victim/mother to access natal care and other support associated with the pregnancy.

For children born as a result of SEA

    Under the SEA/VAM, children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse should be entitled to receive medical, legal and psychosocial care to meet the specific needs that may arise as a direct result of sexual exploitation or abuse. There is no time limit for the provision of assistance to these children. However the ultimate goal is to enable the guardian/caretaker to address their children’s relevant medical, psychosocial, legal and material needs without further assistance from the SEA/VAM. In this respect, caretakers could be provided, for example, with educational or skill-building opportunities as a way to help them to be socially and economically stable.

How should assistance and support be provided?

The main goal of SEA/VAMs is to facilitate access to locally existing services. Such

    assistance mechanisms are meant to serve as a helping hand, a guide or companion to

    complainants, victims and children born as a result of sexual exploitation or abuse so as to make it as easy as possible to receive the services they need. The process of locating and gaining access to such services is often time consuming, difficult to navigate and full of obstacles. For this reason, under the SEA/VAM each and every person qualifying for assistance is coupled with a Victim Support Facilitator, who acts as a case worker to help

    him/her through the system.

Victim Support Facilitators

    The Victim Support Facilitator, essentially a case worker, will help the complainant, victim or child born as a result of sexual exploitation or abuse also referred to as the client to

    access services in a number of different ways. Depending on individual needs, the Facilitator can:

    ; provide referrals, which are the primary vehicle for assistance and support;

    ; accompany or provide transport to their clients to the facilities where services are

    provided;

    ; contact services providers to help their clients gain entry;

    ; act as guide to and liaison with UN administrative processes.

    In a given geographical area there should be multiple Victim Support Facilitators in order to give clients in the SEA/VAM the possibility to choose one with whom they feel comfortable.

    In most cases, Victim Support Facilitators will not be new positions but rather roles taken on by persons in existing positions given that, in most geographical areas, there are not many reported cases of SEA and as such the roles will not require significant time commitments.

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    SEA Victim Assistance Guide

    Victim Support Facilitators may be social workers, persons in community-based organizations or NGOs, community or religious leaders or Focal Points on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA). Facilitators could be part of an existing gender-based violence assistance system, such as GBV committees in camps. They will often already be working with vulnerable members of local populations and other beneficiaries. Most importantly, they should be trusted by the local community and be able to provide gender-sensitive and child-friendly services. (See sample Terms of Reference for Victim Support Facilitators in Annex 3 of this Guide, as well as suggestions for how to identify partners to provide them in Section 4).

Service provision

    Under the SEA/VAM, persons qualifying for assistance should be directed to the closest available services based on local capacities available to other survivors of violence and abuse. It should be pointed out that the SEA/VAM relies on existing services. All assistance and support under the SEA/VAM should be provided in accordance with local protocols for the provision of assistance to victims of other forms of sexual and gender-based violence.

Promoting new services

    The SEA/VAM can help bridge existing service gaps by supporting the establishment of new services. While the SEA/VAM would not fund new services in full, it could contribute proportionately to them depending on how much its clients may use such services compared to survivors of other forms of violence and abuse. In addition, regardless of its financial contribution to new services, the SEA/VAM may play an active role in advocating for them, although it should not be used as the main vehicle for filling service gaps for survivors of gender-based violence in general.

    Connection between the SEA/VAM and other PSEA Efforts

    ; Persons in charge of receiving allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse may often

    also serve as Victim Support Facilitators in the SEA/VAM.

    ; Persons receiving assistance from the SEA/VAM will often engage with other PSEA

    response systems, such as investigation and disciplinary processes.

    ; Victims will often reach the SEA/VAM through other channels of the PSEA

    framework, such as the complaints mechanism and missions’ Conduct and Discipline

    Units. In fact, ensuring that complaints mechanisms are in place alongside the

    SEA/VAM is critical since they will likely be a primary vehicle for identifying persons

    in need of assistance under the SEA/VAM.

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    Section 3: Tools

    Tool 1: Principles to guide the establishment of SEA Victim

    Assistance Mechanisms

    There are a number of principles to guide the development and operation of SEA/VAMs,

    including the following:

    1. SEA/VAMs should be designed based on what is most effective in local contexts

    and according to the best interests of those being assisted by such mechanisms. 2. All assistance and support is to be provided in accordance with individual needs

    arising directly from sexual exploitation or abuse, as well as with local protocols for

    the provision of assistance to victims of violence and other forms of abuse. 3. Every attempt should be made to ensure that all survivors in each geographical area

    have access to a similar level of assistance.

    4. The duration of the provision of assistance and support should be set in accordance

    with individual needs directly arising from sexual exploitation and abuse. The aim is

    to, in the shortest possible time period, enable the person receiving assistance to

    address such needs independent of the SEA/VAM.

    5. SEA/VAMs should be simple, safe and respect the need for confidentiality,

    compassion, dignity and non-discrimination for all the persons connected to the

    incident of sexual exploitation or abuse.

    6. Where children are concerned, their best interest should be a primary consideration

    in the design and implementation of the SEA/VAM.

    7. All assistance and support should be provided in a manner that does not increase the

    trauma suffered by the survivor, cause further stigmatization or exclude or

    discriminate against other survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse. 8. Assistance and support under the SEA/VAM should complement rather than

    duplicate existing support to survivors of abuse and violence and, to the greatest

    extent possible, should be integrated into existing programmes.

    9. Assistance and support should be able to be activated within a short time period,

    given that they are sometimes needed immediately.

    10. Perpetrators of acts of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse hold responsibility for

    their acts; the provision of assistance by the United Nations or any other

    organization does not in any way diminish or replace that individual responsibility.

    Likewise, the provision of assistance is not an acknowledgment of the validity of the

    claims, a form of compensation or an indication of acceptance of responsibility by

    the alleged perpetrator.

    11. SEA/VAMs should respect the rights of every complainant, victim and child born as

    a result of sexual exploitation or abuse, including the right to refuse certain assistance

    or to refrain or withdraw from participating in the SEA/VAM entirely. 12. SEA/VAMs should be separate from the allegation and investigation processes.

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