One of the primary purposes of the PIC – Center for the Legal Protection of Human Rights and the Environment is the protection of human dignity. Protecting users from sexual exploitation and abuse is one of the fundamental preconditions in carrying out this task.
PIC’s policy regarding sexual exploitation and abuse applies to all employees, regardless of the specifics of their employment contracts, and to persons who cooperate with the institute in the framework of voluntary or student work.
Contractors and partners
PIC requires all contractors and partners to implement a zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to act proactively in terms of preventing and responding to such violations.
Prohibition of sexual exploitation and abuse
Any sexual exploitation and abuse is strictly prohibited. PIC pursues a policy of zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse prohibited by criminal and labour national legislation.
Any exchange of money, employment, goods or services for sexual favors or the equivalent of sexual conduct and other forms of degrading or exploitative behaviour, including sexual relationship with persons below the age of 18 is prohibited. It is also prohibited to make the services conditional on the above.
Definition of sexual exploitation and abuse
(1) Sexual exploitation is any actual or attempted abuse of someone’s position of vulnerability, differential power or trust, to obtain sexual favours, which includes, inter alia, monetary, social or political benefits from the sexual exploitation of others.
(2) Sexual abuse is any actual sexual contact or attempted sexual contact resulting from coercion, threat or deception through an authoritarian relationship, regardless of the age of the perpetrator and the victim.
Protection against sexual exploitation and abuse
Sexual relations between employees of the PIC – Center for Legal Protection of Human Rights and the Environment and users of PIC services are strongly discouraged for the protection of users, as they are based on an unequal balance of power, especially when it comes to members of vulnerable groups. Such relations with minors are explicitly prohibited to employees of the Center for the Legal Protection of Human Rights and the Environment.
Prevention, information and awareness raising
By raising awareness and informing all employees, the institute will prevent the occurrence of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Due to the prevention function, every person working within the institution, regardless of their position or type of employment contract, will receive the necessary information about the institution’s policy regarding sexual exploitation and abuse. This information will be provided to all employees and will also be included in the induction for new employees. For this purpose, the management of the institution adopts Guidelines for the implementation of the Policy on the protection of users against sexual exploitation and abuse.
By signing the Declaration of Commitment to the Policy on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, all employees confirm that they are familiar with this Policy on the Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, the Guidelines for the Implementation of the Policy on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse principles of the PIC – Center for the Legal Protection of Human Rights and the Environment. By signing, employees undertake to respect the dignity of PIC service users and to protect them to the best of their ability from sexual exploitation and abuse.
PIC users are largely members of vulnerable groups. In order to protect them, PIC vets candidates for employment in the process of hiring, especially those who will be working in direct contact with members of vulnerable groups at work. The job applicant shall declare that:
– he has never been sanctioned (disciplinary, administrative or criminal) for sexual exploitation or abuse,
– that he has never terminated his employment in order to avoid the investigation of sexual exploitation or abuse or refused to participate in the investigation of sexual exploitation or abuse. Based on the candidate’s consent, PIC also checks the statements with the candidate’s past employers.
Duty of employees
It is the responsibility of all employees to help ensure a work environment in which human dignity is respected. All employees, especially management staff, must strive for a work environment free of sexual exploitation and abuse and adherence to the PIC Code of Ethics.
Every employee should do their utmost to help the victim get out of a situation of sexual exploitation or abuse.
Upon employment every employee has to conduct the mandatory PSEA training. Every employee must conduct a yearly refresher PSEA training.
It is the duty of employees to report acts or suspicions of sexual exploitation or abuse to PIC management, both against PIC employees and others. PIC is committed to supporting victims of such behaviour and protecting those who have filed a complaint (victim or witness) from all forms of retaliation.
Reporting of sexual exploitation or abuse
A report of sexual exploitation or abuse can be submitted by the victim, employee, volunteer, project partner, or user. Anonymous reports are also accepted.
The user can submit the report in the language they understand. PIC provides translation for the complaint and throughout the procedure.
The report is submitted in writing, which also includes a complaint submitted via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org, via the PIC website pic.si, or using other information and communication technologies (for example telephone number 051 681 181). The PIC also has a mailbox installed on its premises, as does the e-mail box on its websites.
The report can be also submitted orally, in person, via telephone or in any other form available to the person submitting the report considering their age, illiteracy, special needs – disability, or any other specific need.
Users of PIC services can also submit a complaint orally in the language they understand, and the counsellor makes a note containing the content of the complaint, information about the user, if the consent is given and an indication of the date and time of the submitted complaint. PIC provides translation so the user can submit the report and continue throughout the procedure.
The report is reviewed by the confidential person, that conducts a preliminary assessment of the complaint. The preliminary assessment includes: lodging the complaint in a designated safe file, informing the complainant that the complaint has been received, informing UNHCR of the received complaint and the initial assessment of the complaint.
The initial assessment of the complaint includes: the determination if the alleged facts, if proved true, would amount to misconduct and the assessment if there is a reasonable likelihood that an investigation could revel sufficient evidence to prove or refute the allegations.
If the initial assessment determines that the alleged facts, if proved true, would amount to misconduct and establishes that there is a reasonable likelihood that an investigation could revel sufficient evidence to prove or refute the allegations the confidential person informs management of the findings and is tasked to conduct the investigation.
In case the initial assessment determines that the facts do not amount to misconduct the confidential person writes a report and submits it to management for review. Even in the absence of an investigation, management may recommend to take risk mitigating actions such as closer oversight of certain activities, rotation of staff, PSEA refresher training, awareness raising campaign with the users, etc.
In case the report is submitted against the management, the report can be addressed (through the above-mentioned channels) or submitted orally to the appointed confidential person.
In case the report is submitted against the confidential person, the report can be addressed (through the above-mentioned channels) or submitted orally to the management.
Information on the confidential person and management and their contact information is available on the website.
Information regarding protection from sexual abuse and exploitation is available on PIC’ website, as is the possibility for the document to be translated into the language of the reader.
Prohibition of retaliation
The victim of sexual exploitation or abuse, the whistle-blower, and others who assist the exploited or abused person must not face repercussions as a result of their actions.
The investigation of a report of sexual exploitation or abuse
(1) An investigation into a report made by a PIC service user against an employee
PIC handles reports from members of vulnerable groups with particular care, diligence, and confidentiality.
During the investigation the confidential person needs to define the allegations and applicable legal norms, identify the subject of the investigation, interview the witnesses, obtain and review the documentation and the evidence and prepare a final report for the management.
Reports by users against employees at the PIC are processed in the same way as reports filed by an employee against another employee, with the difference that the PIC ensures the users their security and confidentiality, offers the victim the possibility to be referred to another institution to be provided with assistance to victims of sexual and other violence, which provides counselling, support and assistance in the proceedings. In case the victim gives their consent, the confidential person refers the victim to another institution, based on the needs and the wishes of the victim. Institutions to help victims of sexual violence are among others Slovenska filantropija, Društvo za nenasilno komunikacijo, Društvo Ključ, Društvo Odnos, Društvo Mozaik, Zavod Emma – Center za pomoč žrtvam nasilja, Človekoljubno dobrodelno društvo Up.
(2) Investigation in case of a report made by an employee of PIC against another employee
Anyone who perceives sexual exploitation or abuse at work or in connection with work is obliged to report the alleged perpetrator of the act and the form of the act to the management through one of the channels described in Art. 9. In case the report is made against the management, the confidential person refers the report to the Board that conducts the preliminary review and investigation and takes the appropriate steps. If the report is made against the confidential person the report can be submitted to the management that serves as the head of the procedure.
It is the duty of the head of the procedure to investigate the case. The head of the procedure needs to define the allegations and applicable legal norms, identify the subject of the investigation, interview the witnesses, obtain and review the documentation and the evidence and prepare a final report. The management reviews the report, gathers information from the victim (if known), applicant of the report (if known), alleged perpetrator and witnesses (if known). In addition, they gather any documents or proof regarding the case in the possession of the persons involved (e.g., communication). The head of the procedure then writes a report that includes all available information on the case and submits the report to the management. In case the report is made against the management the final report is submitted to the Board. In case the report is made against the confidential person the report is made by the management and also submitted to the Board.
Interviews are conducted individually, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of the persons. PIC provides translation during the interviews if needed. The head of the procedure is obliged to conduct interviews in the following manner: complainant, victim, witnesses indicated by the victim, witnesses indicated by the complainant, other witnesses called by the head of the procedure, alleged perpetrator, witnesses indicated by the alleged perpetrator. Interviews are conducted no later than 3 working days from when the report was filed.
The confidential person prepares a report regarding the procedure and submits it to management. The report includes the list of steps taken, information gathered during the investigation, assessment of evidence, findings, analysis of findings and a conclusion. Management reviews the report, conducts an interview with the head of the procedure and if needed takes additional measures.
The persons leading the investigation on behalf of PIC are following the victim centred approach and have the necessary knowledge on investigating SEA allegations (legal background). The confidential person and the management have to complete the UNHCR training on conducting PSEA investigations.
(3) Cases falling under the International Protection Act
In the case of a report of sexual exploitation or abuse of a person treated under the provisions of the International Protection Act by an employee of the PIC or other persons, the institution as a signatory to the agreement is obliged to act according to Standard Operating Procedures for Prevention and taking Measures in case of sexual violence and gender-based violence against persons treated under the provisions of the International Protection Act.
Management must inform UNHCR about the complaint, the results of the investigation, and the measures taken.
PIC handles reports from members of vulnerable groups with particular care, diligence, and confidentiality.
The management, the confidential person and PIC staff involved in the case are required to ensure that the process of dealing with a report of sexual exploitation and abuse is confidential and that the victim’s, the person who filed the report’s, the witnesses’, and the alleged perpetrator’s personal dignity and privacy are fully protected.
In case the victim would not want to disclose their identity, this must be respected, and a report must avoid including the name of the victim.
The alleged perpetrator has the right to see a summary of the facts gathered through the investigation. The head of the procedure provides the summary that includes anonymized information.
Types of measures
Sexual exploitation and abuse are violations of employment obligations. In the event that an employee commits sexual exploitation and abuse, the employer may initiate disciplinary proceedings or initiate proceedings to terminate the employment contract in accordance with the provisions of the law.
If, on the basis of the findings of the investigation the management considers that there is clear and convincing evidence that sexual exploitation or abuse has occurred, the management shall, within 15 days, determine the type of action to be taken against the perpetrator. The management decides on the type of measure independently, taking into account the gravity and nature of the violation. In case the perpetrator is the management, the decision is made by the PIC Board.
In cases of suspicion that there has been a violation of sexual integrity, which is defined as a criminal offense in the Criminal Code, the employer shall immediately notify the police or the competent public prosecutor’s office.
If the victim or the perpetrator want to continue the procedure after the investigation is concluded and the measures are taken, they are referred by the management to the office for free legal aid at the competent court office.
Procedures under other agreements
In cases where PIC employees or their associates detect cases of sexual abuse or exploitation outside the circumstances defined in this act and the institution is a signatory to other acts, documents, agreements in this area, it shall act in accordance with their provisions.
Policy implementation guidelines
The Guidelines for implementing the policy on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation are annexed to this document and detail the procedures for dealing with individual cases.