June 19, 2019
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Internal review reveals sexual assault cases in New Zealand parliament

 New Zealand's parliament in Wellington, Mar 15, 2019. EPA-EFE/AAP/Boris Jancic

New Zealand's parliament in Wellington, Mar 15, 2019. EPA-EFE/AAP/Boris Jancic

Sydney, Australia, May 22 (efe-epa).- The New Zealand parliament on Wednesday admitted that at least three cases of serious sexual assault had taken place inside its premises in the last four years, after the allegations appeared in an internal report, which later resulted in a parliament employee being forced to resign in relation to the case.

The independent investigation, which continued for five months and covered the period between October 2014 and November 2018, reviewed sexism, racism and aggression towards women, including employees, executives, lawmakers, journalists and common citizens inside the parliament as well as the mechanisms that protected the aggressors.

After receiving the review, Speaker of the House of Representatives Trevor Mallard said in an interview Wednesday morning that he got the impression that the assaults had amounted to rape and been committed by the same person, encouraging the victims to file a complaint.

"Reading the report carefully I get the sense that the man is still on the premises. (...) I don't know who it is, if I knew who it is I would tell the police," Mallard told public broadcaster Radio New Zealand.

After Mallard's interview with RNZ, a female staffer lodged a formal complaint to the Parliament Service general manager, who opened an investigation and later a member of the Service was made to resign in the case.

"I don't want to cut across any employment or possible police investigations, but I am satisfied that the Parliamentary Service has removed a threat to the safety of women working in the Parliamentary complex," Mallard said afterwards.

After being informed of the review, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she and other leaders had met the speaker and told him that the parliament needed to be a safe place for the employees who worked there every day.

"At (the) meeting we were all given assurances by the Speaker that he was taking appropriate steps to ensure this is a safe place," Ardern said.

The New Zealand parliament consists of 120 lawmakers and employs hundreds of people, including administrative and support staff, apart from hosting journalists covering the proceedings in the House.

wat/ia/ks

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