Presentation on theme: "U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Office of Overseas Citizen Services Consular Assistance to U.S. Citizens Overseas Victoria Bonasera."— Presentation transcript:
U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Office of Overseas Citizen Services Consular Assistance to U.S. Citizens Overseas Victoria Bonasera Victim Assistance Specialist October 2012
Goals of the Presentation Explain the role of the U.S. State Department in assisting U.S. citizens overseas Discuss unique issues in overseas crime cases Share information on foreign country compensation programs and other national resources Discuss the challenges for overseas victims to qualify for U.S. state compensation programs 2
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations International agreement ( 1963): Legal authority for one nation’s consular officers to function within another nation and act on behalf of its citizens A Consul: An official appointed by a country to reside in another country and assist its citizens residing or traveling in a foreign state 3
4 Bureau of Consular Affairs Mission: To provide Consular services and protections to Americans abroad. Assistance to Americans abroad in emergencies & non-emergencies Safety of U.S. citizens traveling, studying, and residing abroad is paramount
5 Bureau of Consular Affairs Passport Services 23 Passport Agencies 12.6 million passports issued in FY 11. Visa Services Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visas Overseas Citizens Services Emergency/Non-Emergency Services Crime Victim Assistance Children’s Issues
Overseas Citizens Services Our Number One Priority: Safety and Security of U.S. citizens abroad
U.S. Department of State Structure Over 250 Embassies and Consulates in nearly every country in the world Augmented by Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) staff in Washington American Citizen Services (ACS) Children’s Issues (CI): International Adoptions, International Parental Abductions Office of Legal Affairs (L) Outreach and Training (OT) 7
U.S. Citizens Abroad U.S. citizens make over 65 million trips abroad every year 6.3 million U.S. citizens reside overseas Over 700,000 students study abroad 8
9 Consular Information Program Country Specific Information (200+ semi-annually) Country-specific information, e.g., health and safety conditions, entry requirements, US Embassy and consulate locations and contact information Travel Warnings Dangerous or unstable conditions – countrywide, chronic Travel Alerts Short-term threat; regional threat within a country No Double Standard! www.travel.state.gov www.travel.state.gov
10 Non-Emergency Services Citizenship File Taxes Voting Federal Benefits Notarials Enrollment- Let us know you are there Enroll on the Internet or at embassies and consulates overseas
Emergency Services Issuance of Emergency Passports Welfare/whereabouts Privacy Act limitations Arrests/detentions More than 3,500 per year; 30 % drug related Monitor case; communicate with family & authorities Consular prison visits: almost 9000 per year. Crisis response/evacuation coordination 11
Emergency Services Deaths and Estates Medical Emergencies 2500 hospitalizations abroad per year, 400 medevacs Crime/terrorism victims’ assistance 12
13 Emergency Financial Assistance Financial Assistance Programs Assist in contacting family/friends for help –OCS Trusts -- $1.7 M last year Repatriation loans –$1.8M per year Emergency Medical and Dietary Loans –$175K per year
14 CA’s Victim Assistance Program Program began in 2000, when we realized we were seeing more victims In addition, there was greater Congressional interest in how we were serving victims.
15 Victim Assistance Program Responsibilities Provide support Increase understanding of Impact of Crime Principals of Victim Assistance Track numbers of cases
17 Hostage Taking IPCA Trafficking Other crimes in which the victim suffers serious physical injury or emotional trauma.
18 What can consular staff do to assist victims of violent crime? What can’t they do?
19 Assisting Victims Overseas Provide support and information Explain criminal justice process From Washington Resources & referrals
20 Provide Information Provide criminal justice process information Help the victim file police report & obtain copy Serve as the POC for case information, case progress, and court dates Advocate for travel expenses if the victim returns to testify and provide requested assistance Accompany the victim to key phases of the trial, if possible, and monitor the trial outcome Identify local sources of support ($, emotional)
21 What are some of the issues for crime victims overseas?
22 Issues for Victims Overseas Far from family or friends Out of his/her “comfort zone” Unfamiliar with where to get help Language/cultural/legal differences Foreign criminal justice process Additional costs
23 Overseas Challenges Local law Systems may be corrupt Won’t investigate crime Victims may not have rights Services may not exist Difficult choices Services are not equal
State Department Challenges Location of the victim/crime Organizational culture Staff turnover Workload Staff training 24
Foreign Compensation Programs Programs change constantly Foreigners may not be eligible Awards may be low Awards may be contingent on hiring an attorney or a conviction They do not correlate with our state programs 25
Compensation Programs NACVCB.org Financial Assistance 25 States, Puerto Rico and U.S.V.I. ITVERP
27 25 States that Compensate Victims from Overseas California Colorado FloridaGeorgia Idaho Illinois IowaKansas Louisiana Minnesota Mississippi Missouri New Jersey Nevada N. Dakota Ohio Pennsylvania Puerto Rico S. Carolina S. Dakota Texas Utah U.S. V.I. Vermont Virginia West Virginia Wisconsin All states provide support for victims of terrorism.
28 Working Together We ask you to: Review program statutes Share information We can: Assist you with any international-related issue
National Resources www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc www.ncvc.org www.fbi.gov/stats- services/victim_assistance/victi ms RAINN www.ndvh.org
Find Us, Like Us, Share Us Travel.state.gov @TravelGov Facebook.com/TravelGov STEP There’s an app for that! 30