Peace Corps Issues Update on 2019 Crash That Resulted in Death of Ms. Rabia Issa

Carol Spahn

January 7, 2022

WASHINGTON – Today, Peace Corps Chief Executive Officer Carol Spahn released the following update regarding the 2019 crash that resulted in the death of Ms. Rabia Issa:

“The death of Rabia Issa in Tanzania was a horrible tragedy, and we grieve the incredible loss to her family, friends and community.

“We recognize the deep pain that was caused by Ms. Issa’s death, as well as the inequities that exist. Our ongoing work is grounded in a commitment to equity and ensuring our mission is clearly centered in our host communities. We expect all staff and every Volunteer to enter service with deep humility and respect as we seek to foster peace and understanding across cultures. We are committed to doing everything within our power to pursue policy, legislative, enhanced training and other solutions to bolster accountability.

“We understand that many questions remain about the agency’s response to Ms. Issa’s death. Although we know that no amount of money can make up for the tragic loss of Ms. Issa’s life, the Peace Corps expressed condolences and provided financial support to her family. Working with local counsel, the agency and representatives from Ms. Issa’s family agreed that the Peace Corps would provide a mutually agreed upon sum to support her sons. In 2019, the money was disbursed into a bank account established by Ms. Issa’s eldest son and the administrator of the estate. There are many other aspects of this case, including the investigation and personnel matter, which we cannot discuss due to legal and privacy considerations.

“There is more work to be done. We will continue to push to fully realize a Peace Corps that reflects the best of who we are.”

Peace Corps APCD killed a woman in Africa. The U.S. helped him escape prosecution.

2 Comments

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  • While there are many aspects of the case that cannot be discussed, in the interests of transparency and justice, there are general procedural matters that can be.
    For example, which entity or office is conducting the investigation? Has the investigation been referred to an agency outside of Peace Corps, if not why not and if so, what agency? What is the time frame for the investigation. Under Tanzanian law, how is the Administrator of Mrs. Issa’s estate appointed, what are the Administrator’s powers, are his/her actions subject to an audit by an independent judicial authority? Does the Administrator’s authority terminate when Mrs. Issa’s eldest son attains majority?
    Hopefully, the aspects of the case that have not yet been disclosed, will be at the appropriate time and the Peace Corps community will not have to learn them by articles published by independent journalists.

  • Thank you Carol for your strong and heartfelt statement along with additional information. It covers much of what I wrote in a comment to last month’s USA Today article, that “I hope current Peace Corps management takes a fresh look at the agency’s handling of this tragic incident and issues a statement of acknowledgement and apology, ensures that the deceased’s family and other injured parties have received adequate/generous compensation and sets up a fund for outside contributions….”

    I know how hard staff work to keep costs down to channel as much as possible into the programs, so I was concerned with the article’s comment that the person “remained on staff for 18 months before resigning in February [2021].” The agency’s policy on motor vehicle use (MS 522) at the time of the incident did not lay out sanctions. The policy was updated in 2019 (perhaps as the result of this incident) with a new section that clearly states sanctions, including suspension or “summarily removed from office.”

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