AFSA Issues Guidance on the Use of Diplomatic Passports

 

Via afsa.org:

AFSA has seen an increasing number of Foreign Service employees under investigation for possible misuse of their Diplomatic Passports (DPs). To ensure that our members understand the relevant rules for DPs, AFSA issues the following guidance.

General Guidance:

DPs carry the same message from the Secretary of State as do any other passports, i.e. that their bearers be permitted “to pass without delay or hindrance” and be given “all lawful aid and protection.”  However, they also announce that their bearers are abroad on diplomatic assignment with the U.S. government. While traveling abroad with such passports, DP holders not only have a special obligation to respect the laws of the country in which they are present, but they must abide by U.S. government and agency-specific standards of conduct.

In addition to reviewing the guidance below, we suggest all DP holders review the following material:

  • 8 FAM 503.2, Travel with Special Issuance Passports (updated 6/27/2018)
  • 18 STATE 6032, Proper Use of Special Issuance Passports (1/19/2018)
  • 12 STATE 12866, Official and Diplomatic Passports – Notice to Bearers (2/11/2012)

DP Terms of Use:

  • DPs may only be used while their holders are in positions which require such documents, i.e. during official business travel.
  • A DP attests that the bearer is traveling on diplomatic/official business for the U.S. government or is an accompanying family member of such a person.
  • DPs are authorized for any travel on government orders. For example, DPs may be used for R&R or medevac travel.
  • TDY travel should be conducted with DPs and any required visas. DP holders are advised to check with the post in question regarding requirements for entry.
  • DP holders should practice carrying both regular and diplomatic passports while on travel.
  • DPs must be used when entering and exiting the holder’s country of assignment abroad and returning to the U.S. from the country of assignment. Regular (tourist) passports must be used for all personal travel.
  • For all travel, we strongly advise carrying both diplomatic and regular passports and complying with instructions of local immigration authorities, even if those instructions are not necessarily in compliance with this guidance. If this or any other unusual situation occurs involving the use of diplomatic passports, please document the event for your records.

Examples:

  • U.S. diplomat assigned to Country A is taking a personal trip (tourist trip) with his/her family to Country B. The U.S. diplomat, and accompanying family members, must use the DPs for entering/exiting Country A. However, they must use their personal passports (“blue book”) for entering/exiting Country B. Whichever type of passport is used to enter a country must be used to exit that country.
  • U.S. diplomat has completed his/her tour in Country A and is returning to the U.S. with his/her family. The U.S. diplomat and accompanying family members will use their DPs for leaving Country A and entering the U.S.
  • U.S. diplomat assigned to Country A has an official meeting in Country B and then will travel to Country C for tourism. The U.S. diplomat must use the DP to exit Country A and enter and exit Country B. However, the diplomat must use his/her personal passport to enter and exit Country C. The DP will be used to re-enter Country A.

DPs Do Not:

  • Confer diplomatic immunity.
  • Exempt the bearer from foreign laws.
  • Allow the bearer to carry classified or sensitive material across borders.
  • Allow the bearer to avoid questions from foreign immigration or bypass security.
  • Protect their holders from arrest, hazards of war, criminal violence, or terrorism.

To Note:

  • DPs may subject their bearers to increased scrutiny by foreign governments and other entities.
  • Misuse of DPs may be investigated and prosecuted as a violation per 18 U.S.C. 1544.
  • Employees who are found to have misused DPs may also be subject to disciplinary action.
  • Many countries have visa requirements for DPs which exceed those for regular passports.  Guidance can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/special-issuance-agency-home/en/spec-issuance-agency.html
  • Taiwan: All travel to Taiwan by executive branch personnel must be with a regular passport.  In addition, executive branch personnel who plan to travel to Taiwan for official purposes must have prior concurrence from the Office of Taiwan Coordination: (202) 647-7711.

More information can be found at the Special Issuance Agency page here.

We understand that the Department of State will issue its own guidance on this topic shortly.

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Hatch Act With AFSA, December 3, 2019

 

Via afsa.org:

We are now one year away from the 2020 Presidential election – the perfect time to review the provisions of the Hatch Act. If you are uncertain about how the Hatch Act applies to Foreign Service members in Washington and overseas you are probably not alone.

On December 3, come to AFSA headquarters (across Virginia Avenue from the 21st Street entrance to the State Department) to have pizza and drinks and a frank discussion on the Hatch Act. Our presenters will be Ana Galindo-Marrone from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Kathleen Murphy from State’s Legal Advisor, and Deputy General Counsel Raeka Safai from AFSA’s Labor Management office. All AFSA members from all Foreign Service agencies are welcome.

For this event to be as useful as possible to our members, we are inviting questions in advance so the speakers can address them in their presentations. There will also be a live question and answer session after the presentations. The presentation will cover traditional area of political activity covered by the Hatch Act and will focus on the Hatch Act and social media as well.

Click here to register for the event. To send in a question you would like addressed in the presentations, please send the question to Sam Miglani at afsaintern@afsa.org with the email title “Hatch Act Topic.” We will try to incorporate as many of your questions into the presentation material as we can.

This event will be recorded and made available for online viewing at www.afsa.org/video. For those who prefer gluten-free refreshments, we will have gluten-free pizza available. See you there!

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AFSA Seeks Donation For Legal Defense Fund For Employees Snared in #ImpeachmentInquiry

Posted: November 4, 2019
Updated: November 11, 2019

Via AFSA:

AFSA’s Legal Defense Fund was created in 2007 to provide financial assistance to members in cases involving issues of significant institutional importance to the Foreign Service. It was named after the late Richard Scissors, a longtime AFSA staff member whose expertise in labor-management issues was crucial to many an AFSA member during his tenure. Sometimes cases come along where AFSA is unable to provide the time or legal expertise that is required. It is in such instances that the LDF can provide financial support which assists the member in retaining an outside attorney with expertise in a particular area of law. Unfortunately, this is one of those times. We have members in need as a result of the ongoing Congressional impeachment investigation. Your contribution can help. Donations to the LDF are not tax deductible.

If you are not a member of AFSA and do not wish to register on the AFSA website to make a donation, we welcome a donation by check made out to “AFSA Legal Defense Fund.” Please send that check to AFSA, c/o LDF, 2101 E Street NW, Washington DC 20037. Please include a certification that you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, and the name of your current employer.

Congressional appearances reportedly lasted between three hours to 10 hours durations. This could easily cost career employees thousands of dollars in legal fees; and that’s just for a single appearance.
The fees matrix created by the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia (USAO) for  2015-2020 notes that attorney’s fees can range from $319/hour for those with less than 2 years experience to $637/hour for lawyers with over 31 years of experience. Attorneys with 11-15 years experience have an hourly rate of $510/hour. We’ve also seen higher estimates than this for legal fees in WashDC, of course.
Ambassador Eric Rubin, the president of the American Foreign Service Association told us that “AFSA is optimistic that it will be able to cover legal fees of our members that are not covered by the U.S. Government. We continue to reach out to members and the public to ask for more support so we can build a Legal Defense Fund that can meet all known needs of our members.”
If you are able, please consider donating to AFSA’s Legal Defense Fund to help Foreign Service employees who are doing their duty in cooperating with the ongoing Congressional investigations. Thank you!

 

Statements of Support For Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

 

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was previously scheduled to appear for a deposition in Congress on Wednesday, October 2. Reports indicate that she is now scheduled to appear before the oversight body on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019.
In the meantime, the American Academy of Diplomacy has issued a joint statement signed by AAD Chairman Thomas R. Pickering  and AAD President Ronald E. Neumann supporting Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Must Be Supported

Washington, D.C. – The American Academy of Diplomacy calls on the Administration to make clear that it will not act against career diplomat Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch for doing her duty and working to support long established US policies and values. The Administration removed Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine prematurely. Now, we note with great concern the statement by President Donald Trump in the recently released memorandum of conversation with Ukraine’s president, in which the President said of Ambassador Yovanovitch, “Well, she’s going to go through some things.” The threatening tone of this statement is deeply troubling. It suggests actions outside of and contrary to the procedures and standards of a professional service whose officers, like their military counterparts, take an oath to uphold the Constitution. Whatever views the Administration has of Ambassador Yovanovitch’s performance, we call on the Administration to make clear that retaliation for political reasons will not be tolerated.

The Academy is a non-partisan organization of former senior U.S. diplomats, career and political appointees, who have served over decades. Our mission is strengthening American diplomacy. In our careers, we have worked around the world and under Republican and Democratic administrations alike and frequently acted publicly and privately against foreign corruption. Speaking out against foreign corruption is consistent also with the Foreign Anti-Corruption Act that binds U.S. business.

The American Foreign Service Association, the “voice of the Foreign Service” has also issued a statement on The Importance of a Non-Partisan Career Foreign Service but made no specific mention of Ambassador Yovanovitch’s case.
On October 1, NBC News reports that more than 50 former female U.S. ambassadors are calling on President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a letter to protect foreign service officers from political retaliation in the wake of the ousting of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.  The signatories of the letter are members of an organization of current and former ambassadors, Women Ambassadors Serving America.
The report notes that “Only one current U.S. ambassador signed the letter: Catherine Ebert-Gray, a career foreign service officers who serves as the U.S. envoy to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Her signature comes with a notable caveat; She adds that “The views expressed are my own and not necessarily those of the U.S. government. Signing a public letter critical of the Trump administration could put current ambassadors at professional risk, which likely explains why Ebert-Gray is the only one to sign the letter.”

 

 

U.S. Withdrawal From U.N. Postal Union Will Interrupt/Eliminate U.S. Diplomatic Post Office Deliveries

 

Via afsa.org:
On October 17, 2018, the Trump Administration announced that the U.S. was starting the one-year withdrawal process from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a 145-year-old United Nations organization that regulates global mail delivery. The UPU will meet in late September to consider changes to the organization’s rules and rate structures. The Administration has said that it will remain in the organization if certain changes are adopted. Because the U.S. is required to give one year’s notice before withdrawal, the U.S. could depart as early as mid-October if it decides to do so. 
Should the U.S go through with the withdrawal, the Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) will experience—at best—significant interruption, if not outright elimination while the U.S. would have to negotiate new bilateral postal service agreements with other countries. While pouch deliveries will not be affected, DPO deliveries for any Foreign Service personnel at post will likely be impacted. The potential ramifications are obvious to all members of the Foreign Service, particularly when it comes to delivery of medical supplies and medications.
AFSA has raised the possible negative effects of withdrawal on Foreign Service families with senior officials in HR and has been working with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), which is the military equivalent of AFSA, as APO services may be affected as well. While the legal authority to withdraw from the UPU lies with the executive branch, AFSA is also warning Congress of the negative implications DPO interruption or elimination would bring our diplomats.
The A Bureau is well aware of this problem and has been working to mitigate possible challenges and seek alternative solutions. AFSA advises all members to read the recent ALDAC on this issue (19 STATE 76584), as well as any embassy-issued management notices.
AFSA will keep following this and will update members if and when needed. In the meantime, please heed the guidance from the Department of State: Plan to make bulk purchases or crucial supplies early so that your deliveries will reach you before mid-October.  

 

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Congratulations to AFSA’s 2019 Awardees for Exemplary Performance

 

Via afsa.org:

 

Award for Achievement and Contributions to the Association:

F. Allen ‘Tex’ Harris
Widely referred to as “Mr. AFSA,” Mr. Harris has made enormous contributions to AFSA over five decades. In 1970, he was instrumental in AFSA’s efforts to become a union. He was a principal drafter of the 1976 legislation that created the Foreign Service grievance system. He served two terms as AFSA president, leading efforts to improve working conditions and to end ethnic, gender and racial discrimination within the State Department.

Nelson B. Delavan Award for an Office Management Specialist:

Katherine Elizabeth Kohler, Embassy Addis Ababa
In addition to her full-time role as an office management specialist, Ms. Koehler simultaneously served as U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa’s de facto full-time staff assistant, and was instrumental in tracking and coordinating multifaceted efforts to support Ethiopia’s reforms. Ms. Koehler led an interagency project to survey Ethiopia’s population to learn how they feel about the U.S. and their country’s reform agenda. As an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor, she trained more than 100 local staff members in EEO rules.

Avis Bohlen Award for an Eligible Family Member:

Laurent Charbonnet, Consulate Frankfurt
Mr. Charbonnet is honored for his “Diplomacy Through Bicycles” program through the consulate community’s Frankfurt Refugee Outreach Committee. Mr. Charbonnet volunteered weekly as a bicycle mechanic at a refugee center in Frankfurt’s Bonames district. This center is home to thousands of recently arrived refugees who rely on volunteers like Mr. Charbonnet to develop survival and self-sufficiency skills.

M. Juanita Guess Award for a Community Liaison Officer:

Michelle Ross, Embassy Caracas
Ms. Ross is recognized for her extraordinary efforts to assist embassy personnel and family members who were evacuated after the Venezuelan government broke diplomatic ties with the United States in January. Ms. Ross, who joined the Caracas Community Liaison Office team in 2018, was a key ally to evacuees during the difficult transition that followed. Ms. Ross worked with all management sections and the Family Liaison Office to facilitate the swift evacuation of 79 Americans and 22 pets.

Mark Palmer Award for the Advancement of Democracy:

Christopher Gooch, Embassy Baghdad and Nora Brito, Embassy Caracas
Two Palmer awards are given this year due to an excellent pool of nominees.

Christopher Gooch is a forceful advocate for U.S. and universal values who made bold and imaginative efforts to expand democracy, freedom, and good governance during assignments in Iraq and Nepal. In Baghdad, he protected women civil society activists, persuaded the Iraqi government to take action to protect trafficking victims, and helped launch an initiative aimed at resolving the Kirkuk dispute. In Nepal, he crafted a transitional justice strategy triggering the first movement on the issue in four years.

Nora Brito created an informal group of 12 young members of the Venezuelan National Assembly. This group included members from all sectors of the Venezuelan opposition. Ms. Brito used her impeccable language ability, strong relationship-building skills and substantive knowledge of Venezuelan politics to build honest, long-lasting relationships with the group. These interactions provided her, Embassy Caracas and Washington a fresh perspective on the Venezuelan political situation.

AFSA Post Representative of the Year Award:

Lawrence Fields, Consulate Frankfurt
Mr. Fields is recognized for his work at one of the largest posts in the world. Frankfurt had gone without a post representative for an extended period. Mr. Fields revived AFSA’s presence and recruited a USAID post representative and a State alternate representative to serve members’ needs. He created an AFSA email group to keep our members informed of developments throughout the year and launched an “AFSA Corner” column in the CLO weekly newsletter. Remarkably, this is Larry’s second time receiving this award.

 

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New AFSA Governing Board (2019-2021 )Takes Office

 

New AFSA Governing Board (2019-2021). Photo by AFSA/Twitter

The 2019-2021 American Foreign Service Association Governing Board took office on July 15. It will serve a two-year term (Also see 2019-2021 AFSA Governing Board Election Results). Below via AFSA:

Incoming President Ambassador Eric Rubin comes to AFSA from his posting as Ambassador to Bulgaria, where he served from three years. He was previously deputy chief of mission in Moscow, deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, consul general in Chiang Mai, executive assistant to the under secretary of State for political affairs and Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

Foreign Service Officer Thomas Yazdgerdi, AFSA’s new Vice President of the Department of State constituency, is a 28-year veteran of the State Department. Yazdgerdi is finishing his tenure as Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, but has also served in Kabul, Kirkuk, Baghdad, Pristina, Panama, Bratislava, Tirana and Athens, as well as Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs.

John K. Naland returns as Vice President for the retiree constituency. He has held numerous positions on AFSA’s board, including State Vice President and AFSA President.

Foreign Service Officers Jason SingerJay Carreiro and Michael Riedel will serve as Vice Presidents of the USAID, Foreign Commercial Service and Foreign Agricultural Service constituencies, respectively.

Completing AFSA’s leadership team, retired senior FSO Virginia L. Bennett will serve as Treasurer and Kenneth Kero-Mentz will serve as the organization’s Secretary.

Complete bios for AFSA’s elected leadership, including all officers and constituency representatives, can be found on the AFSA website.

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2019-2021 AFSA Governing Board Election Results

Help Fund the Blog | Diplopundit 2019 — 60-Day Campaign from June 5, 2019 – August 5, 2019

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On June 17, AFSA announced the results of the 2019-2021 AFSA Governing Board elections and Bylaw Amendments. A total of 3,291 valid ballots were received (2,420 online and 871 paper). According to AFSA, this represents 20% of the eligible voting membership.  The new Governing Board will take office on Monday, July 15, 2019.

The following AFSA members have been elected (winning candidates are in bold):

President

Secretary

Treasurer

State Vice President

USAID Vice President

  • Jason Singer (27 votes/write-in candidate)

FCS Vice President

  • Jay Carreiro (52 votes)

FAS Vice President

  • To be determined when all write-in votes are processed.

Retiree Vice President

  • John K. Naland (862 votes)
  • Hon. John O’Keefe * (502 votes)

State Representative (6 positions)

  • Kristin Roberts * (1,285 votes)
  • Lillian Wahl-Tuco * (1,246 votes)
  • Holly Kirking Loomis * (1,196 votes)
  • Tamir Waser * (1,168 votes)
  • Joshua C. Archibald * (1,123 votes)
  • Matthew Dolbow (869 votes)
  • Don Jacobson * (764 votes)

USAID Representative

  • To be determined when all write-in votes are processed.

Alternate FCS Representative

  • To be determined when all write-in votes are processed.

Alternate FAS Representative

  • To be determined when all write-in votes are processed.

APHIS Representative

  • To be determined when all write-in votes are processed.

USAGM Representative

  • Steven L. Herman (1 vote)

Retiree Representative (2 positions)

  • Mary Daly * (916 votes)
  • Philip A. Shull * (827 votes)
  • Hilary Olsin-Windecker (508 votes)

 

AFSA Foreign Service Furlough Stories: 10 Days to Get to a Plane for a Medical Evacuation!

Help Fund the Blog Diplopundit 2019 — 60-Day Campaign from June 5, 2019 – August 5, 2019

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Excerpt via AFSA/StateVP Kenneth Kero-Mentz:

For many of us, the shutdown caused real financial trouble, and even with careful planning, paying bills became a stretch. Some members had already tapped into their “rainy day fund” after being forced to leave Mission Russia last year. Others had to juggle funds to pay tuition expenses or mortgages due in January. Unemployment benefits were not available to many members serving overseas. Single parents and tandem couples were hit particularly hard with the delay of first one paycheck, and then two.

We heard stories of how the shutdown affected our members’ work. For instance, at the National Defense University and other war colleges, Department of State students were locked out of lectures and prohibited from participating in seminars during the shutdown. USAID war college students were designated “excepted,” so they could continue attending class. Students from State should have been “excepted” as well. There’s no reason why the U.S. government’s investment in a yearlong master’s degree program for its future senior leadership cadre should be torn apart midstream.

A mid-level officer at a small post in Africa reported that she was busier than ever, covering for her furloughed colleagues, planning events only to cancel later as the shutdown dragged on. As days turned into weeks, and then surpassed a month, morale plummeted. After all, as she said, who wants to work for an organization that consistently understaffs and overworks its team? She wonders if her enthusiasm for what is increasingly becoming a thankless job will ever rebound.
[…]
At one large mission in Asia, all State Department employees were required to report to work regardless of pay status. These people could not do any public-facing work and could not contact their counterparts at other posts or the department (since they were all furloughed), but were required to report to work in a non-pay status. It did not make sense. As many members noted, furlough decisions should be made in a central and transparent manner. Though none of us expected the shutdown to last so long, better contingency planning could have helped.
[…]
The hardships went well beyond juggling work requirements and paying bills. One second-tour specialist was hospitalized and needed to medevac to the United States immediately. The shutdown delayed the processing of the medevac funding request; due to the shutdown and short staffing, it took 10 days to get the person on a plane.

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AFSA Announces 2019-2021 Governing Board Candidates and Proposed Bylaw Amendments

Posted: 12:02 am EDT

 

Via AFSA:  The AFSA Committee on Elections has approved the following candidates for positions on the ballot for the AFSA Governing Board for the 2019-2021 term. All regular voting members of AFSA who are in good standing as of March 28, 2019 will receive, by email or mail, a ballot, the candidates’ campaign statements, the text of the proposed AFSA Bylaw Amendments, their rationale, and any opposition to the proposals, on or about April 29, 2019. Members can also view the proposed bylaw amendments online here.

Completed ballots must be received by 8:00 a.m. EDT on June 12, 2019, in order to be counted. The new AFSA Governing Board will take office on July 15, 2019.

All AFSA positions are uncontested except the State Department Representatives where there are eight candidates running for six slots, Retiree VP where there are two candidates, and Retired Member Representatives where there are three candidates for two slots. AFSA notes that no eligible candidates came forward for the positions of USAID Vice President, FAS Vice President, FCS Alternate Representative, FAS Alternate Representative and APHIS Representative.

Current State VP Kenneth Kero-Mentz is running as AFSA secretary, current Retiree VP John K. Naland is running for reelection, current State Representatives Don Jacobson and Lillian Wahl-Tuco are also running for reelections.

2019 Governing Board Candidates

Nominee Position
Eric Rubin * President
Kenneth Kero-Mentz Secretary
Virginia L. Bennett * Treasurer
Thomas Yazdgerdi * State VP
John K. Naland Retiree VP
John O’Keefe* Retiree VP
Jay Carreiro FCS VP
Joshua Archibald* State Rep
Matthew Dolbow State Rep
Don Jacobson * State Rep
Holly Kirking Loomis * State Rep
Kristin Roberts * State Rep
Katheryne ‘Kate’ Schilling State Rep
Lillian Wahl-Tuco * State Rep
Tamir Waser * State Rep
Abinet Belachew USAID Rep
Steven L. Herman USAGM Rep
Mary Daly * Retiree Rep
Hilary Olsin-Windecker Retiree Rep
Phillip A. Shull* Retiree Rep

* Member of the Strong Diplomacy slate

A Town Hall meeting has been set for Tuesday, April 2, at 12:00 p.m. in the first floor conference room at the AFSA HQ building, 2101 E Street, NW Washington DC 20037. This event will be taped and available on the AFSA YouTube channel. The candidates’ statements will be posted on the AFSA website on April 1, 2019. Visit the elections webpage to view.

If you have not already done so, please ensure AFSA has your current email and mailing addresses on record. To update your address information, send an email to member@afsa.org.