Safeguarding Officers Vow to Keep Safe Environments for the Vulnerable in Southern Africa

Safeguarding officers in the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA). Credit: IMBISA

Safeguarding officers in the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) have pledged to maintain safe environments that reduce risks for children and vulnerable adults in the region that brings together nine countries.

In a statement issued after a February 26 to March 1 workshop, the officers said they were “determined to work towards an environment that is safe, nurturing, healing and free from any form of abuse, harm, or exploitation.”

“We are committed to maintain safe and healthy environments that mitigate risks to children and vulnerable adults. We are dedicated to adopting without delaying a culture of vigilance, transparency, and accountability,” they said in the Monday, March 4 statement following the workshop that was themed “Promoting Safeguarding in the Church: A Forum for Dialogue and Exchange in Southern Africa”.

They said they would employ a “child centered approach” to uphold the dignity of vulnerable persons.

The officers noted that by employing the child-centered approach, they would be promoting the children and vulnerable persons’ “participation and decision-making and listening to their voices and acknowledging their rights and responsibilities.”


They pledged to maintain zero tolerance in responding and reporting cases of abuse such as emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, and social abuse and negative behaviour.

The officers also expressed a commitment to denounce negative cultural practices in the Southern African region. This, they said, they would achieve by collaborating with the rest of the society in the IMBISA region.

Participants in the meeting that also included secretaries-general and Bishops from the IMBISA region said they would regularly review their policies to align with current standards and legislative requirements to support victims and survivors of abuse.

“We will act with integrity, empathy and diligence putting prayer as a source of our Gospel values,” they said, and added, “We are committed to on-going education, formation, and training to enhance our understanding for protection and safeguarding.”

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