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Human Rights Commission again in firing line over sexual harassment allegations

The Human Rights Commission is once again in the firing line over how it handles allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct involving its own staff. 

Former employee Jessica Kereama says three years ago she told the commission to review its policy after it took six months to independently investigate her complaint.

The complaint related to a senior colleague of hers in 2014.

She drew their attention to two historical allegations of sexual abuse outside the commission, and an inappropriate relationships with a subordinate who'd since left.

Ms Kereama wasn't one of the victims and police weren't involved.

"It was four months of silence and that was very difficult," she said.

"I got to do an overnight trip with him, even though I'd raised very serious allegations."

Six months after she raised the initial complaint, an independent investigator was appointed, but a week before the report was due the man resigned.

Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, has condemned the commission for their lack of action.

"That should have been taken seriously and it doesn't seem to have been."

In a statement the commission says some of the allegations were more than a decade old and when MS Kereama first made her complaint she was told specific information was needed to investigate.

Once a formal complaint was made six months later, they did investigate.

Last month, Mr Little issued an independent review after an American intern said she'd been groped by a senior staff member.

Ms Kereama has since left the commission.

"The one thing I asked for. No money, no settlements. I asked for a review of how people are looked after when they raise allegations of abuse," Ms Kereama said.

The Human Rights Commission says it's full cooperating with the review, which will be completed by the end of April. 

Justice Minister Andrew Little has condemned the commission's handling of an employee allegation three years ago. Source: 1 NEWS


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