Power versus safeguarding: The role of leaders in safeguarding

Noel Remasu headshot

Noel Remasu works as the Communications and Tech Support person for the RSH South Sudan Hub. He works closely with the National Associate to promote the Hub and supports day-to-day activities. He has over 8 years of experience in the field of Information Technology, particularly in developing software applications, network infrastructures, security and managing online platforms.

What are the differences between Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEAH) and Gender-based Violence (GBV)? What is safe recruitment? and what are the roles of leaders in ensuring safeguarding?

RSH South Sudan Hub National Associate Caroline Kibos and Data Emmanuel, a mentor for the hub, answered listeners’ questions on air with Miraya FM radio station in Juba. Listen to parts of the recording that aired live on the Miraya Breakfast Show with host Sebit William and Irene Lasu in June 2022.

On 10 May, United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)  published its brief on the human rights situation in South Sudan for the first quarter of 2022. It documented and verified 173 incidents, involving 754 civilians, including 101 women and 86 children, subjected to the four major forms of harm: killing, injury, abduction and sexual violence.

Answering the host’s question on how serious these figures are in their day-to-day work when it comes to SEAH in organisations and communities, Data said that these figures are just a drop in the ocean. He said that some organisations do not have safeguarding policies and proper reporting mechanisms, hence, a lot of cases remain unreported.

Answering the host’s question on who is responsible for whose protection in a working environment, Caroline said:

"When we talk about safeguarding, we cannot miss talking about power. Those in a position of power are supposed to protect those without power.”

A listener calling in from Bentiu asked if SEAH is a human rights violation.

"Any exploitation, abuse and harassment is a human rights violation,” Caroline said.

The same listener asked if some perpetrators were convicted and already in police custody.

“To some extent, authorities properly handled some cases—for example, the recent case of Kenyan Commercial Bank. The success of the bank issue is because the victim's whistle blew, and the media got involved. Unfortunately, some cases are reported but never pursued because higher powers protect the perpetrators,” said Caroline.

Another listener calling in from Gudele suggested that organisations should install CCTV cameras in their premises to monitor the behaviour of staff members. Responding to this, Data said that CCTV cameras are great, but unfortunately in most organisations or companies it is always the CEO or the people in power who control these cameras. So, it is easy for them to delete any proof of their involvement in perpetrating individuals.

The same caller asked whether RSH works with civil society organisations (CSOs) only or government institutions as well.

“We try to involve all stakeholders in our activities, but government reports do not come to us because, administratively, each institution has a way in which it handles its concerns or cases. For example, in an organisation, you cannot take a case outside before exhausting all the internal measures and I would like to think the same for the government institutions. But in case the institutions do not have these mechanisms in place then they can reach out to us at the hub for support.” Caroline responded.

Yet another listener calling in from Akobo highlighted that some individuals are scared to report cases due to the fear of losing their jobs and asked what can be done about that.

Responding to this, Caroline suggested: “Involve other people in reporting process so that the perpetrator knows that you are not alone in this, and that people know what they did.”

The same caller reiterated that some of these cases take place outside workplaces, and asked what can one do to ensure their safety when meeting superiors outside.

“Meet in open space or public venue or go with a friend and make sure that the person inviting you knows that you are not there on your own,” suggested Caroline.

Caroline also highlighted the RSH Ask an expert service. This is a free and tailored support available for any South Sudanese civil society organisation.

“As the National Associate, I am the first point of contact and where other support is needed, this can be drawn from within our pool of consultants. You can submit a query asking for support with developing or implementing a safeguarding policy or quality assuring a new process,” she added.

To send request for Ask an expert, please email us at: [email protected]

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