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CommunityBased Complaints Mechanisms

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A d e f i n i t i o n o


Complaints mechanism:


Complaints process

Feedback to complainant


Internal and External Reporting

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R e s p o n s i b i l i t y

Staff and internal reporting

C o m m u n i t y r e p

External CBCM

Note: the terms complaints, reports, and allegations are used interchangeably. As a general rule:

The alleged victim (i.e., the complainant) makes a complaint. Those who are not the alleged victim make reports (this includes those who are making the original report and those who are responsible for forwarding reports to the appropriate person/unit in the organization). Allegations can refer to complaints and reports.

W h y


i s

i t i m p o

T h e s y s t e m i s

A formal reporting system ensures that:

T h e

Why develop a complaints mechanism?

p u r p o s e

Internal and External Reporting

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I d e a l l y a c o


B u i l d i n g

Management responsibilities

S a f e r


S e c r e t a r y G

Management responsibilities (contd)

What should be reported?

A practice of behavior suggesting that a staff member has abused the power invested in him/her, by virtue of his/her post, to sexually exploit or abuse a beneficiary

An allegation that a staff member has breached an agencys policy and rules regarding SEA outside the work environment (e.g., by engaging in sex with a person under 18)

Concerns that cover a wide range of issues involving the exploitation of women and/or children ranging from inappropriate behavior to possible criminal offences

Barriers to Making Complaints

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I n p a i r s d i s c u


A l t h o u g h

b e n e

T w o


g r o u p s :


Barriers to making a complaint

Lack of trust that the allegation will Gender inequality re: attitudes to be taken seriously women/children

Fear of reprisal and no protection Socioeconomic or political context that doesnt prioritize abuse in the Respect for/fear of senior face of other challenges officer/expat Isolation, lack of management/ Little confidence in reporting support mechanisms because beneficiaries perceive no action will be taken Fear that there will be no confidentiality

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More barriers
Fear that aid/source of income will Age children may be less likely to be taken away report

Fear of losing life, job, status, prospects

Cultural issues and norms SEA seen as acceptable practice

Lack of knowledge concerning reporting process or lack of access to people with power or will to intervene

Not culturally appropriate to challenge those in authority

Lack of awareness that such behavior is wrong

Reporting may render one unmarriageable

Lack of faith complained before and no response

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Further barriers

Few channels for reporting

Concern that boxes are not secure

Fear of being accused of making a false accusation if they have no tangible proof

No one has heard outcomes of Beneficiaries are benefiting from investigations the transaction, so they may not want to complain Fear of getting it wrong Beneficiaries may not desire punishments as proposed by NGOs may wish to shop for alternatives
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Community leaders act as gatekeepers to engaging with aid organisations inhibits

Barriers for children making a complaint

Might think that

They will not be believed

They will be killed or hurt if they tell They will be taken away from families They will not be able to explain/articulate Their families will be hurt

Abuse is normal and it happens to everyone The abuser will be sent to prison, fired or killed They are bad and it is their fault Abuse is their fault because they do not practice religion enough Will not receive presents, money, food

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O f t e n m o r e d i

Barriers to boys in particular

N o o n e c o u l d

Adults may believe

N Myths related to People o with disabilities b o d y w o u l d

Chronic underreporting THEREFORE Mechanisms have to be created with the constraints to reporting in mind, and work with communities to break the silence and establish systems that reflect the concerns above.

The Community

Community-Based Complaints Mechanism

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r e p o r t i n g

Community-based complaints mechanism

m e c

c o m p l a i n i n g

B u i l d s o n e x i s t i n

Community-Based why?

C o n s i d e r :

Existing complaints structures

H o w

D i f f i c u l t t o

What/who is the community?

d e

E l d e r s C o m m i t t e

Who represents the community?

[ H A P ] f o u n d

Challenge of committees

I f

In establishing a CBCM, understand how the y community is defined o

u d e c i d e

Without mechanisms in place to ensure the accountability of camp committees, it is the humanitarian community itself that is placing people affected by the disaster at risk of further hardship and abuse
HAP (2010)